Garnerin was born in Paris on 31st January, 1769. He studied physics
before joining the French Army. Over the next few years Garnerin
became interested in hot air balloons and advocated their use for
In 1783 Louis-Sébastien
Lenormand developed a parachute out of two umbrellas. He used this
parachute to jump safely from a high tree.
Two years later Jean
Pierre François Blanchard placed a small animal in a small
basket attached to a parachute. This was then dropped from a air
balloon and the descent was so slow that the animal survived the
Garnerin began experimenting
with parachutes while he was a prisoner of war in Hungary. However,
during his three year stay he never reached the stage where he could
employ his parachute to escape from the high ramparts of the prison.
It was not until 1797
that Garnerin completed his first parachute. It consisted of a white
canvas canopy 23 feet in diameter. The parachute had 36 ribs and
lines, was semi-rigid, making it look like a very large umbrella.
Garnerin made his first
successful parachute jump above Paris on 22nd October, 1797. After
ascended to an altitude of 3,200 feet (975 m) in an hydrogen balloon
he jumped from the basket. As Garnerin failed to include
an air vent at the top of his parachute, he oscillated wildly in
his descent. However, he landed unhurt half a mile from the balloon's
takeoff site. Garnerin therefore became the first man to design
a parachute that was capable of slowing a man's fall from a high
Garnerin's wife, Jeanne-Genevieve Garnerin, became the first woman
to make a parachute jump. Garnerin made exhibition jumps all over
Europe including one of 8,000 feet (2,438 m) in England.
Jacques Garnerin died in Paris on 18th August, 1823, when while
preparing balloon equipment, a beam struck him on the head.