Published on Jan 6, 2020

Parachute Background Images

License Info: Creative Commons 4.0 BY-NC

According to researchers, the first practical parachute was introduced by a French inventor in 1783, Sebastien Lenormand. It was he who demonstrated the parachute principle with a dog at the passenger’s “seat.” However, parachutes had been imagined and sketched by Leonardo Da Vinci while he was living in Milan centuries earlier, around 1480-1483. Also, other inventors have designed parachutes, including the Croatian inventor Faust Vrancic, who constructed a parachute device, based on Da Vinci’s sketches. He then decided to demonstrate his parachute’s successful design, called the Homo Volans, by jumping from a Venice tower in 1617.

Over a century later, Jean Pierre Blanchard, another Frenchman, has been recorded to be the first person to actually use a parachute for an emergency situation. After a successful drop of a dog in a basket from a balloon high in the air, in 1785, to which a parachute was attached, Blanchard has stated that he managed to escape himself from an exploded hot air balloon using a parachute, in 1793. Whether his claims were true or not, the fact still remains that he was the first to produce the first foldable parachute version made from silk; until then parachutes were made from rigid frames and were not able to fold and be carried with ease.

Another inventor, Andrew Garnerin, designed the first parachute air vent and on October 22, 1797 he was the first person actually recorded to jump with a parachute which did not have a rigid frame. His famous jump from a hot air balloon from an altitude of 8,000 feet left the witnesses speechless with his accomplishment. Many years later, 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 knapsac to be worn on the back before it was to be released. Furthermore, Kathchen Paulus was the person behind the intentional breakaway invention, which is when one small parachute opens first and pulls open the main parachute. Finally, Grant Morton and Captain Albert Berry parachuted from an airplane in 1911 and in 1914, Georgia “Tiny” Broadwick made the first freefall jump.


Using parachutes for military reasons was an idea first introduced by Col. William Mitchell, sometime during W.W.I. But, aeronautical engineering found a new way to use the parachute, when in 1981 Steve Snyder and Adrian Vandenberg completed the basic frame design of the parachute specifically designed to land spacecrafts and objects send to earth from the space stations and space observing robots. Pilots use modern versions of ejection seats in case of emergency, which have a parachute incorporated into their design.

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