DaVinci Parachute drawing
Credit for the invention of the first
practical parachute frequently goes to Sebastien Lenormand who demonstrated
the parachute principle in 1783. However, parachutes had been imagined
and sketched by Leonardo Da Vinci (1452-1519)
centuries earlier and other inventors have designed parachutes, including
Croatian Faust Vrancic who constructed a device based on Da Vinci's
drawing and jumped from a Venice tower in 1617.
Faust Vrancic published Machinae Novae, in which he describes
in text and picture fifty-six advanced technical constructions, including
Vrancic's parachute called the Homo Volans.
Jean Pierre Blanchard (1753-1809)
a Frenchman was probably the first person to actually use a parachute for
an emergency. In 1785, he dropped a dog in a basket, to which a parachute
was attached, from a balloon high in the air. In 1793, Blanchard claims
to have escaped from an exploded hot air balloon with a parachute. Blanchard,
it should be noted, also developed the first foldable parachute made from
silk, up until that point all parachutes were made from rigid frames.
In 1797 (October 22), Andrew Garnerin was the
first person recorded to jump with a parachute without a rigid frame. Garnerin
jumped from hot air ballons as high as 8,000 feet in the air. Garnerin
also designed the first air vent in a parachute intended to reduce oscillations.
In 1837, Robert Cocking became the
first person to die from a parachute accident.
In 1887, Captain Thomas Baldwin invented
the first parachute harness and in 1890, Paul Letteman and Kathchen Paulus
invented the method of folding or packing the parachute in a knapsak to
be worn on the back before its release. Kathchen Paulus was also behind
the invention of the intentional breakaway, which is when one small parachute
opens first and pulls open the main parachute.
Two parachuters claim to be the first
man to jump from an airplane, both Grant Morton and Captain Albert Berry
parachuted from an airplane in 1911. In 1914, Georgia "Tiny" Broadwick
made the first freefall jump.
Drawings: 1920 Parachute Design
The first known written account
of a parachute concept is found in da Vinci's notebooks (c l495).
World of Parachutes, Parachuting, and Parachutists
Parachute is said to have come into
being by putting together the prefix "para" and the noun "chute."
Parachute Training Tower - Switlik Parachute
Polish-American Stanley Switlik founded the "Canvas-Leather
Speciality Company" on October 9, 1920. The company first manufactured
items such as leather hampers, golf bags, coal bags, pork roll casings, and
postal mail bags. However, Switlik soon switched to making pilot and gunner
belts, designing flight clothing, and experimenting with parachutes. The company
was soon renamed the Switlik Parachute & Equipment Company. According to
In 1934, Stanley Switlik and George Palmer
Putnam, Amelia Earhart's husband, formed a joint venture and built a 115 foot
tall tower on Stanley's farm in Ocean County. Designed to train airmen in
parachute jumping, the first public jump from the tower was made by Ms.
Earhart on June 2, 1935. Witnessed by a crowd of reporters and officials from
the Army and Navy, she described the descent as "Loads of Fun!"
The idea of parachutes for military
personnel was first suggested by the late Col. William (Billy) Mitchell,
this was sometime during W.W.I even before they had chutes for American
Development of the ParaPlane
Aeronautical Engineer, Steve Snyder,
with the help of Adrian Vandenberg, completed the basic frame design of
the paraplane in March of 1981.
When you have to leave that plane
Initially it was considered very
"un-manly" to even consider wearing a parachute in an airplane.
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