HomeThis week in history224 Years Since First Parachute Jump

224 Years Since First Parachute Jump

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On October 22nd in 1797, Frenchman André-Jacques Garnerin, made history by being the first person to successfully parachute jump from a great height- 3200 feet. If you’re wondering how this was possible, given that aeroplanes would not be around until a century later, then you would be not be alone. However, there was an early form of air travel that allowed Garnerin to test out his parachute prototype: the hot air balloon!

Garnerin devised the idea for the parachute whilst he was in prison in Hungary after being captured by British troops during the French revolution. During his time in prison, he dreamt of escaping, imagining ways that he could flee from his cell window onto the cliffs below without injuring himself. Fast-forward  to 1797, and Garnerin had devised a parachute, which was based on an umbrella shape, and made from silk. It was approximately 7 metres long, with a basket attached to the bottom, so that he could comfortably seat himself.

On the day of his parachute jump, Garnerin attached his parachute to the hot-air balloon before climbing in and soaring the 3200 feet over Paris. Once he reached this height he cut the rope that attached himself and his parachute to the hot-air balloon and descended. Though this initial attempt was a little hairy- the prototype parachute did not include an air vent, and so the basket tipped from side to side a little violently- Garnerin emerged completely unscathed, and so began a career in parachuting! He would go on to make a successful jump from 8000 feet over London in 1802!

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