San Francisco, CA Boxer Dies in Parachute Jump, Feb 1930

Deaf Mute Boxer Dies in Parachute Attempt

San Francisco, Feb. 23.--(AP)--Fred "Dummy" Mahan, welterweight boxer from Tombstone, Ariz., plunged to his death here today in a 5000 foot jump from an airplane. Mahan, a deaf mute, made the jump in an effort to regain his hearing. He had been deaf since he was eight months old. A crowd of several thousand persons watched, horror-stricken, as he catapulted through the air from the clouds.

Only the pilot parachute opened as he fell from a plane piloted by Col. Harry Abbott, Berkeley aviator, inventor of a new type parachute which Mahan was using. Col. Abbott said after landing that Mahan pulled the rip cord of the parachute too soon after jumping. The pilot parachute struck the stabilizer of the plane, hopelessly entangling the fighter, Abbott said.

The accident occurred almost directly over Mills field, San Francisco's municipal airport. The body fell in a meadow a short distance away.

Mahan was regarded as one of the outstanding welterweights in the country. He had been planning the jump for several months, over the protest of his manager, Fred Winsor. Mahan previously arranged an airplane dive at Los Angeles, by which he had hoped to regain his hearing, but the attempt was unsuccessful. Winsor attempted to dissuade Mahan from making the jump only a moment before the plane took off with him as a passenger, but he refused to heed his manager's warning.

Col. Abbott said he wrote out careful instructions for Mahan to count six before pulling the rip cord. He apparently disregarded the directions and jerked the rip cord as he stepped off the wing, the flier said.

Springfield Republican, Springfield, MA 24 Feb 1930