Prototype Parachutes

Theodore "Red" Hulsizer's collection of experimental, prototype parachutes

he made as a civilian at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio. 



Theodore "Red" Hulsizer worked at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base as a civilian from 1941 to 1973. He started as a leather and canvas worker doing detail work in the planes the "top brass" used during World War II. On January 9, 1949, he officially transferred to the parachute division as "Initial Parachute Manufacturer". Click here to see his promotion notice. On March 19, 1950, he was redesignated as "Prototype Parachute Manufacturer". Click here to see his Change In Designation notice.  Red didn't design parachutes.  He made them.  He quit school in 9th grade (1919) and his mom taught him to sew, so he could get a job inside, out of the weather.  He did a variety of sewing jobs before WWII.  Parachutes were fairly easy for him, so when someone had a new design, he made and tested the first parachute at 1/12 scale, from 6 inches to 30 inches in diameter.  He enjoyed making the small ones and no one else really did, so he made almost all of them.  When they were done testing them, he was allowed to keep them.  We verified this with the National Museum of the United States Air Force in Dayton, Ohio back in 1998.  They cataloged them at the museum for two weeks, then curator Charles G. Worman gave us this note when they returned them:

We've been told Red's collection of 31 model parachutes includes every major refinement of parachute technology, including the first ram air parachute.  These parachutes span the early refinements of DaVinci's original design, drag chutes and ribbon chutes made from Nazi designs, early round controllable chutes, the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo missions and working with Domina Jalbert developing the first working model of the "Jalbert parafoil" (177.30). The parafoil is considered to be the only revolutionary redesign of the parachute since DaVinci invented them. Grandpa told me "that crazy kitemaker" was constantly looking over his shoulder and talking to him while he was making it. Domina knew it needed to be perfect and it is. It was the model for the first large parafoil, which Red made for the U. S. Air Force at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. A video of Red & Bill holding the parafoil and Red saying it is the first working model parafoil ever made is on the Parachute History page. Pictures of test flights of the first large parafoil made from this design are there, too. We also have four Jalbert kites developed for an Air Force project on the east coast.

We have donated all but parachutes 177.15 and 177.30 (the parafoil) to the National Museum of the United States Air Force in Dayton, OH, USA, along with the kites, all of Red's photos, tools and other artifacts.  With any luck, they will all be on display together, including the two we kept (on loan), when their new addition opens in 2014.

We would like to add the history of each parachute to this website.  If you know anything about any of these parachutes, we would really like to hear from you.  Please email Bill at with any info you may know.  We will note on the site who contributed each history.

We flew all of the parachutes in a "wind tunnel" on Friday, October 9, 2009 and the amazing pictures & videos are here on the Photos and Videos pages, with all the history of them that we know.  Enjoy your visit !!!

The Hulsizer Family


Theodore "Red" and Sarah Luella (Greene) Hulsizer