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225 years ago, a Frenchman fell 3,200 feet from the sky

A silk parachute carried him to the ground. Roughly.

On 22 October 1797, André-Jacques Garnerin became the first man to use a parachute that did not have a rigid frame. It did have a basket, however.

Garnerin was a ballooner, and he attached his parachute to a helium-filled balloon. Then lifted off! At 3,200 feet, he cut the cord attached to the balloon, “his parachute opened and he made a rather wild descent to the ground.”

Garnerin made that first documented high-altitude parachute drop over Paris. He traveled around Europe, demonstrating the marvels of the parachute about 200 times. His wife became the first woman to parachute on 12 October 1799. In 1802, Garnerin dropped from 8,000 feet (2,440 m) in England.

technical illustrations for parachute de Jacques Garnerin
[Le premier parachute de Jacques Garnerin, le 22 octobre 1797] Three technical illustrations show (1) the crown of deployed parachute; (2) release from the ascending balloon; and (3) separation when fully deployed. Source: A.G. Renstrom, LC staff, 1981-82. Library of Congress..
Sebastien Lenormand is credited with making the first rigid-frame parachute jump, in 1783, from a tree. He is also credited with naming the invention a parachute, marrying the Latin “preposition ‘para’ (against) and the French word ‘chute’ (fall) to create a new word meaning ‘to avert a fall’.”

However, Leonardo da Vinci famously dreamed of flight and in ~1483 had sketched an idea for a parachute.

“If a man has a tent made of linen of which the apertures (openings) have all been stopped up, and it be twelve braccia (about 23 feet) across and twelve in depth, he will be able to throw himself down from any great height without suffering any injury.”

Today, that notebook lives in the Biblioteca Ambrosiana library in Milan, Italy.

da Vinci parachute sketch
Leonardo da Vinci’s parachute sketch, 1485. Frontiers of Flight Museum.


#scitech, #space (275/365)
Daily posts, 2022-2023

By Kathy E. Gill

Digital evangelist, speaker, writer, educator. Transplanted Southerner; teach newbies to ride motorcycles! @kegill

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