The Descriptive Finding Guide for the Birdie Draper Personal Papers SDASM.SC.10039.O/S

Alan Renga
San Diego Air and Space Museum Library and Archives
2001 Pan American Plaza, Balboa Park
San Diego 92101

Language of Material: English
Contributing Institution: San Diego Air and Space Museum Library and Archives
Title: Birdie Draper Personal Papers
Identifier/Call Number: SDASM.SC.10039.O/S
Physical Description: 1.25 Cubic Feet This is a two box collection. The first box – containing folders with documents and photographs – measures 12 ¼” x 10 ½” x 5. The second box – containing two posters and a scrap book – measures 24 ½” x 20 ¾” x 3”.
Date (inclusive): 1936-2005
Abstract: Birdie Draper was an early female daredevil, pilot and parachute rigger.

Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open to researchers by appointment.

Conditions Governing Use

Some copyright may be reserved. Consult with the library director for more information.

Preferred Citation

Please credit the San Diego Air and Space Museum's Library and Archives

Biographical / Historical

Birdie Viola Draper was born in 1916 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. In 1937 at the age of 20, Birdie began her training as a parachutist with Stub Chrissinger, an instructor for Hincks flying service. Mr. Chrissinger was one of two licensed parachute riggers in Minnesota at the time. After her training, Birdie joined a stunt group of Thrill Day Performers traveling to State Fairs. She was paired up with Captain F. F. (Bowser) Frakes who was best known for his daring plane crashing stunts. Birdie was recognized for crashing through sixteen sticks of dynamite with her car, as well as solid masonry walls. Her vast array of death defying stunts earned her the name, “The Queen of Daredevils.” By 1940, Birdie completed thirty-five parachute jumps. She retired in 1941 as a daredevil once she received her license as a parachute rigger from the Department of Commerce. Shortly afterwards she took a position as a rigger for Ryan Aeronautical Company. Birdie married George Griffin, a local attorney, and retired from Ryan Aeronautical Company in 1945. Birdie died on November 1, 2005.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The collection was donated to the San Diego Air and Space Museum.

Scope and Contents

This is a two box collection. The first box – containing folders with documents and photographs – measures 12 ¼” x 10 ½” x 5. The second box – containing two posters and a scrap book – measures 24 ½” x 20 ¾” x 3”. This collection was organized by material and subject type. The collection covers the life of Birdie Draper as a daredevil stunt performer and parachute rigger from 1936 to 1945. This collection contains posters, a scrapbook album, newspapers, correspondence, logbooks, manuals, and photographs.

Related Materials

SDASM Women of Flight Collection

Subjects and Indexing Terms

Women Airforce Service Pilots
Women in aeronautics
Women air pilots
Draper, Birdie, 1936-2005


Box 1 of 2


Folder 1 – Minn Aviation History, 1993


Folder 2 – “My First Jump” by Birdie Draper


Folder 3 – Correspondence


Folder 4 – Newspaper Article on Frakes


Folder 5 – Aviation Related Newspaper Clips


Folder 6 – Newspaper Articles on Women


Folder 7 – Pioneer Parachute Club, Parts Catalog


Folder 8 – (Scanned) Jump Loop, 1937-1940


Folder 9 – “The Interesting Story of Parachutes”


Folder 10 – “Parachutes,” by J. Floyd Smith


Folder 11 – Irvin Manuals & Brochures


Folder 12 – Manual for all Models


Folder 13 – Study Outline for Primary Ground Instruction


Folder 14 – Primary Ground Study Manual, 1939


Folder 15 – Parachute Tech Regulation Booklet


Folder 16 – Miscellaneous


Folder 17 – The Rip Cord Club


Folder 18 - Photographs

Physical Description: 1. Eleven photographs of Stub tutoring Birdie – from medical exam, to spilling and folding a parachute. 2. Birdie in uniform by car. 3. Birdie and Frakes (with her story in the newspaper). 4. Birdie, Frakes, and Stub looking at photographs. 5. Dynamite Crash. 6. Frakes Portrait. 7. Birdie and Jack. 8. Four photographs of Frake’s plane crashes. 9. Jumpers after landing. 10. Crew gathering with group signature. 11. Frakes and plane. 12. Frakes, Birdie, car, and dogs. 13. Shadow (roller derby) signed. 14. Birdie crashing into a brick wall, 1938. 15. Birdie chuted up, St. Clair, Minn., 1939. 16. Birdie in uniform next to a car – Wold Chamberlain, 1938. 17. Two photographs of the Minneapolis Aquatennial, July 1940. 18. Birdie’s first jump, 1937. 19. Birdie’s 13th practice jump. 20. Birdie in uniform in front of the brick wall she crashed, 1938. 21. Miscellaneous thrill show. 22. Birdie practicing jumping, St. Clair, 1939. 23. Birdie, plane, and child. 24. Two group photographs with names. 25. Birdie in uniform standing next to a Taylor Cub, 1938. 26. Two photographs of Birdie in 1939, one with Frakes and the plane, one without Frakes (plane crash she didn’t make with Frakes). 27. “Reckless” Rex Murphy, the Thunderbolt test driver. 28. Three photographs of Chuck Doyle and his planes.

Folder 19 – Parachute Log (1)


Folder 20 – Parachute Log (2)


Folder 21 – Parachute Log (3), 1939


Box 2 of 2


Poster of the First Annual Parachute Circus at Camp Kearny Mesa, San Diego, CA, featuring Miss Birdie Draper. Sunday, October 19, 1941.


Painted rally poster – do not open.


Scraper Board scrapbook (unbound). It consists of twenty double sided pages (24 inches long), and contains newspaper articles and clips, a map, a logo, and magazines.