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Miss Viola

TODAY IN KIMBERLEY’S HISTORY 7 SEPTEMBER

7 September 1872, Governor Sir Henry Barkly arrives on the diamond fields for a visit.
7 September 1892, Miss Viola (pictured) goes up 3000 feet in a balloon, and parachutes down.

DID YOU KNOW

Edith Maud Cook (1 September 1878 – 14 July 1910), also known as Viola Spencer-Kavanagh, Viola Spencer, Viola Kavanagh, and perhaps as Viola Fleet and Elsa Spencer, was an early British parachutist, balloonist, and aviator.

Cook was born on 1 September 1878, in Ipswich, Suffolk, the daughter of James Wells Cook, a confectioner, and Mary Ann Baker. In a later interview she claimed to have run away from home at age 14 to go on a balloon flight, the exact age when she performed in Kimberley.

Cook was variously known as Miss Spencer-Kavanagh, Viola Spencer-Kavanagh, Viola Spencer, and Viola Kavanagh. She is also reputed to have been known as Viola Fleet and Elsa Spencer. It would seem that she used the names Viola Spencer and Viola Kavanagh when undertaking parachuting engagements, and the name Spencer-Kavanagh as an aviator. She worked for the Spencer Brothers and Auguste Eugene Gaudron.

In August 1908, she had a narrow escape when trying to make a parachute jump at Ilkeston, Derbyshire. On attaining the desired altitude she found that she could not detach the parachute from the balloon. Clinging on she continued to gain height and drifted during the night before she finally came down some twenty-five miles from her starting point. This event was widely reported in newspapers at the time.

She was reputed to have made over 300 parachute jumps in a career spanning over 10 years. She was reported in the newspapers to carry a small revolver with her as she could never be sure where she might land.

She died from injuries sustained following a jump from a balloon at Coventry in England on 9 July 1910. Her parachute collapsed after a gust of wind blew her on to a factory roof. It was reported that another gust of wind caught the parachute and she fell from the factory roof sustaining serious injuries. She died on the 14th. (From Wikipedia).

From Kimberley Calls and Recalls on Facebook By Steve Lunderstedt

Aeon Computer Kimberley

About Steve Lunderstedt

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