|James F. Donahue
CAHS Honored in 1970
Click to view the LAUREATES album
James F. "Jimmy" Donahue was born in Marshall, Kentucky on February 2, 1907. He saw his first plane, an OX-5 Jenny, in 1918 when it had an emergency landing in a field near his home. Several years later but it he had his first ride, in a Jenny paying ten dollars for a ten minute ride.
Aviation had taken over his life's interest and he took lessons, soloing after only one hour, forty minutes of flying time. In 1920, he started wing walking and in 1922, at age 19, made his first parachute jump. He was known as "Dare Devil Jimmy" and he thrilled his fans by transferring from cars and boats to planes via rope ladders, and hanging from his teeth from airplanes in flight
Jimmy held the record for a high-altitude parachute jump at 21,171 feet. He did this at Colorado Springs on August 11, 1930. Red Mosier (CAHOF) was his pilot for this flight. Jimmy was idolized by his fans as he demonstrated his skills and talents throughout Colorado. During this time he helped pioneer changes and improvements in parachutes to make them safer and more dependable for all aviators.
Jimmy flew many of the planes of the times, including Jennys, Standards, Wacos, Eaglerocks Travelairs, Stearmans, Ford Trimotors and others. His aerial demonstrations accompanied the dedication of many airports in Colorado. Many of these early planes were equipped with OX-5 engines.
He helped found the Nicholas-Beazley Aircraft Company in Marshall, Missouri. In May of 1925, shortly after Justin Mclnaney closed the deal to purchase a Swallow for the Alexander Film Company in Englewood, Colorado, Jimmy followed him to Denver to help start the Alexander Aircraft Company. This company went on to build some 1500 planes, including several Eaglerock designs and the advanced low-wing, retractable gear plane, the Bullet. The depression eventually killed the airplane and the company.
Jimmy was honored by the OX-5 organization and by the National Aviation Association. He was a founder of the National Parachute Jumpers Association.