Parachute Wedding Dress

The San Diego Air & Space Museum recently acquired a wedding dress with a very special story behind it, that involves war, survival and love. At the end of World War Two, flight engineer Charles "Chuck" Martin was on a training flight when the Consolidated B-24 Liberator he was on crashed.  The incident happened while the crew were practicing emergency procedures and a full engine failure occured.  The pilot gave the emergency warning and Chuck evacuated the Liberator through the bomb bay, successfully parachuting to the ground below.  All of the crew survived, except the pilot.  

The A-3 harness and parachute, similar to the type that Chuck Martin would have worn.

In this clip from an oral histoy, Chuck desribes getting the parachute on and preparing to jump:


Occasionally when hydraulic lines were shot out, crews would attach their parachutes to their B-24s to slow them down upon landing.  This image provides a good illustration of the size of the parachute that saved Chuck.

Chuck descripes the jump:

Almost immediatley upon landing, Chuck had an idea....he wanted to retrieve and save the parachute for his future wife's wedding dress. And so he did.  

Chuck Martin was discharged in November 1945 and soon after met his bride to be.  On October 3rd, 1946 Chuck and Carolyn Martin were married, and just as Chuck had wished, the nylon parachute was used as the wedding dress.  Carolyn used the skills she attained in a 8th grade sewing course to make the dress, and as you can see, the results are breath taking!

Carolyn Martin describes how she made the dress:

The rip cords were used in the design of the dress.

Detail shot of the dress.

In August 2021, just before the 75th anniversary of their wedding, Chuck and Carolyn's daughter donated the dress to the San Diego Air & Space Museum along with other material that tells the incredible story of this garment.  

Chuck and Carolyn on their wedding day.

San Diego Air & Space Museum

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