The Methow Valley is considered the "birthplace of smokejumping." The initial experimental jumps were made during the fall of 1939 using the first Forest Service owned aircraft, an SR-10 Stinson. The Eagle Parachute Company of Lancaster Pennsylvania provided parachutes, protective clothing, riggers, and jumpers. 58 experimental parachute jumps were made to "determine under what conditions firefighters or smokechasers, trained as parachute jumpers, could safely land in inaccessible mountainous areas."
Smokejumping was developed in the late 1930’s as a mean to quickly reach fires in remote, road-less areas for initial attack. The primary mission of a smokejumper is fighting fire! Along with parachuting, smokejumpers may be delivered to fires via helicopter, by vehicle or on foot. Smokejumpers are considered a national resource and are occasionally deployed as a 20-person crew throughout the United States.
The North Cascades Smokejumpers are dispatched to fires in the United States on Forest Service-Bureau of Land Management-Bureau of Indian Affairs and state owned lands. Smokejumpers are often sent to other regions to assist with fire suppression efforts and other projects.