Joseph J. Dunkel was a veteran parachute jumper and pilot, flying various aircraft from gliders to four-engine bombers. He made what is perhaps the earliest known reference to an attempt at a stratospheric jump. Born in 1896 around Cleveland, Ohio, Dunkel began parachuting from a very young age. During the 1930s, he was the leader of a large team of jumpers who gave demonstrations of mass jumps at the Cleveland National Air Races. By the time he was 41, he was a veteran daredevil parachutist and had jumped approximately 1300 times and had trained innumerable parachutists, including various women parachutists also mention in the collection, such as Marie McMillen. In 1938 he announced an attempt at the world’ first stratospheric jump, however the stunt never came to fruition. When the United States entered World War II, Dunkel was hired at Consolidated Vultee Aircraft Corporation, San Diego Division. He married Alice E. Hefner and they had one son, Russell Norman Dunkel.
The collection contains over 200 mostly black and white photographs of stunts and air races, racer aircraft, as well as newspaper clippings, sketches and schematics planning a jump from a Consolidated B-24 Liberator, and materials largely from the 1930s and 1940s.
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