In the 1950's
The story of how Edward "Ted" Strong started making parachute equipment is much like the rest of his life: an adventure!
At age 16 Ted left home and started the never-ending adventure that was his life. He would hitch hike to a new town, find the local YMCA for a place to stay, and find odd jobs to do. His winning smile, willingness to do anything, and positive attitude meant he never had much trouble finding work. He would paint houses, mow lawns, and basically do anything that needed to be done. He would stay in each town until he had seen all he wanted and then move on, all the while sending money back home to his parents. After saving up enough money he bought a motorcycle. He would fill the tank, drive until he ran out of gas or money, then find work. He traveled from coast to coast in this manner and eventually ended up back on the eastern seaboard.
He found full time employment at Sears-Roebuck as a photographer. During this time he was able to save up money for his next big adventure: exploring Europe. In the spring of 1956 Ted and a friend boarded a passenger liner for months in Europe where they enjoyed the sites, making stops in Italy, Switzerland, Germany, France and England. While staying outside of Rome he spent a few days with a gentleman and his travel buddies from Deerfield, Mass. They were instant friends and vowed to look each other up back in the States. On their return, he kept his promise, and Ed Dory, a sport parachute jumper, introduced Ted to the sport. Instantly he was hooked. Ted worked throughout the week to make enough money to jump on the weekends at the Cambridge Parachute Club.
In the 1960's
By the time he joined the Army in 1959, Ted had already acquired 100 parachute jumps. After basic training Ted was to be stationed in Texas, but when the Army discovered his jump experience, his orders changed. He was instead stationed at the United States Military Academy in West Point, NY. His duty there was to coach the USMA Cadet Parachute Team and the West Point Sport Parachute Club, both of which won awards under his tutelage. In 1961, Ted Strong was honorably discharged from the Army and went to Boston University to earn his college degree in business. At just 25 years old, Ted formed Strong Enterprises in Quincy, Massachusetts. His passion and drive to make parachute jumping safer and more widely available were two of the key driving factors in everything he did from this point on. Strong Enterprises 50-year legacy of innovation started with the modification of existing non-steerable military parachutes into steerable ones. As the fledgling skydiving industry developed, Strong Enterprises expanded to fill the need for skydiving equipment and accessories.
In the 1970's
As the need for improvements grew in the skydiving community Strong Enterprises expanded our operation's capabilities to meet the need. Strong Enterprises became a leader in the industry by designing, fabricating and manufacturing complete parachute systems. During this time Ted was an active competitor in Accuracy and realized the need for comfortable, reliable, safe gear. This lead to the design of the Lo-Po reserve in 1971. It had been said that there were two kinds of reserve parachutes at the time "The Lo-Po, and anything else. If you didn't have a Lo-Po you wanted one, and if you had one you knew you were in good hands."
Soon after the release of the Lo-Po, Strong Enterprises received a TSO from the FAA for the Pop-Top in 1973. Two years later, we received TSO approval for the Para-Cushion Pilot Emergency Systems.
In 1977, Strong Enterprises moved to Orlando, Florida to be closer to the year round skydiving and aviation community. At our larger facilities in Florida, Strong Enterprises again expanded operations and began developing and manufacturing all types of parachute systems.
In the 1980's
In 1981, Strong Enterprises introduced the SET-10 troop parachute. Shortly after, on January 15, 1983, Strong Enterprises revolutionized the skydiving industry with the introduction of the first ever dedicated Tandem System, a jump made by Ricky Meadows and Ted Strong. There was no way to foresee the impact that this invention would have on the industry, but anyone who enjoys King Airs, Casas, Twin Otters or any other turbine engine aircraft has Ted Strong to thank for inventing, manufacturing, and persevering through the growing pains of the Tandem Skydiving System. Today, over two million people in the United States enjoy tandem skydiving every year.
A year after making those landmark Tandem jumps, the company introduced the Master Main, Master Reserve, and Dual Hawk Tandem System, receiving the first "Tandem Exemption" from the FAA allowing tandem jumps.
Continuing in all areas of parachuting, the company introduced the Mid-Lite canopy in 1987, and in 1988, Ted Strong was issued a patent for the Tandem Harness.
In the 1990's
Focusing also on solo sport gear, Strong Enterprises introduced the Quasar container in 1993.
After creating the Tandem system, Ted could not stop thinking of how to get even more people safely to a single location. In 1995 the Quad Pod was successfully dropped. After just three drops it became apparent that just getting people safely to the ground was only half the battle; without ground mobility the Quad Pod fell short of the real mark. Developing the idea and finding the right vehicle capable of landing under a parachute took time, but in 1999 the first manned Airborne ATV (AATV) drop was an immediate success. Since then the AATV has been driven off tailgates from altitudes as high as 25,000 feet. Ted considered this one of his most enjoyable pursuits.
Turn of the Millenium
In 2001, Strong Enterprises introduced Screamer, a system that could precisely deliver up to 10,000 lb. cargo loads from 25,000 feet to the target area in about six and a half minutes. Traditional methods of cargo delivery take 30-40 mins to reach the ground, giving enemies ample time to target, surround, and steal the cargo. Screamer was developed to give our troops the advantage! The speed of delivery gives our troops time to recover the cargo before enemy detection.
In the Tandem industry, Strong Enterprises introduced the SET-366 main canopy in 2006, and in 2011 Strong Enterprises celebrated 50 years in business.
Today we continue to innovate and live up to our motto:
A Parachute Company with Imagination. We are constantly developing new products as well as enhancing current designs, from personnel to cargo, military to civilian in order to meet the needs of our current and future customers. Not only do we embrace change, we create it. Find out how we can help you as we create history together. What's next?