Parachutes are the subject of today's look at aviation history. And we travel back to 1785 on this day and dive a little bit further into parachute history, to the earliest known attempts of using a parachute device.
In 1783 the parachute was invented by Fernchman Sebastien Lenormand (1757 -1837).
The word parachute is a combination of the Latin word 'para' (against) and the French word "chute" (fall).
He first tried jumping from a tree with some modified umbrellas.
And in 1783 he jumped from a tower in Montpellier, France, using a 14-foot parachute with a rigid wooden frame. One of the many witnesses to this feat was Joseph Montgolfier, who together with his brother Jacques Montgolfier is credited with the invention of the hot air balloon.
Balloons and parachutes were brought together during these days, and one of the men doing that was Jean Pierre Blanchard.
On the 3rd of June in 1785 Jean-Pierre Blanchard demonstrated the use of the parachute in England by releasing a silk parachute with a 20 ft diameter loaded with just ballast from a balloon. Later this ballast was replaced by dogs. In 1793 a demonstration turned emergency when he had to escape to safety from his balloon after that ballon failed.
Parachutes or at least the idea of using them have been around for centuries. In 852 already Arman Firman already tried the idea by jumping from a tower using a cloak as a parachute.
The oldest known representation of a parachute-like device goes back to the early renaissance time, around 1470 an anonymous author drew a man hanging from a frame with a canopy. holding the frame with his hands and what appear to be 4 straps "securing" him to the device. These attempts continued through the centuries until the first properly documented successful parachute jump by Sebastian Lenormandnin in 1783 who is credited as the inventor of the parachute.