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 altitude.
In 1799, 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.
Garnerin died in Paris on 18th August, 1823, when while preparing
balloon equipment, a beam struck him on the head.
parachute jump from an aeroplane took place at St. Louis. During
the First World War parachutes were
issued to pilots in the German Airforce, French Army Airforce and
the United States Air Service but not the British Royal Flying Corps.
The official reason given was that parachutes were not 100% safe,
it was too bulky to be stored by the pilot and its weight would
affect the performance of the aeroplane. Unofficially the reason
was given in a report that was not published at the time: "It
is the opinion of the board that the presence of such an apparatus
might impair the fighting spirit of pilots and cause them to abandon
machines which might otherwise be capable of returning to base for
R. E. Calthrop, a retired
British engineer, had in fact developed the Guardian Angel, a parachute
for aircraft pilots, before the war. Pressure was applied on Calthrop
to keep quiet about his invention.
With growing numbers
of pilots dying as a result of their aircraft being hit by enemy
fire, Calthorp rebelled and in 1917 advertised his Guardian Angel
parachute in several aeronautical journals. Calthorp revealed details
of the tests that had been carried out by the Royal Flying Corps
pointed out that British pilots were willing to buy their own parachutes
but were being denied the right to use them.