From Inventing aviation
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Outgrowth of emergency umbrella use?[1]

Jean-Pierre Blanchard used parachute with LTA airship in 1785.[2]

The Chinese emperor Shun, who lived in the third millennium before our era (traditional date 2258–2208 B.C.), is not only the first flyer recorded in history, but also the very first who made a successful descent in a parachute,–an experiment first made or repeated in the midst of our civilization as late as AD 1783.[3]

Garnerin patent: Patent FR-1802-185

Patents in categories parachute or parachutes


Enclosing categories Simple tech terms
Keywords Safety
Start year
End year


  1. Wise, 1873, Through the Air, p. 108. "The parachute very much resembles the ordinary umbrella in shape, but is much larger. The umbrella itself, requiring such strength to bear it up against a moderate wind, might naturally have suggested the application of the same principle to break the fall of a body coming from a great height. To effect this nothing was required but to present a surface having dimensions sufficient to experience from the air a resistance equal to the weight of descent, in moving through the fluid with a velocity not exceeding that of the shock which a person can sustain without danger or injury. Accordingly, in the East, where the umbrella, or rather the parasol, has been from the remotest ages in familiar use, this implement appears to be occasionally employed by vaulters for enabling them to jump safely from great heights. Father Loubere, in his curious account of Siam, relates that a person, famous in that remote country for his dexterity, was accustomed to divert exceedingly the king and the royal court by the prodigious leaps which he took, having two umbrellas with long slender handles fastened to his girdle. He generally alighted on the ground, but was sometimes carried by the force of the wind against the trees and houses, and not unfrequently into the river. Not a great many years ago the umbrella was, at least on one occasion, employed in Europe for similar purposes, as well as in our own country. In the campaign of 1793 a French general, named Bournonville, having been sent by the National Convention, with four more commissioners, to treat with the prince of Saxe-Coburg, was, contrary to the faith or courtesy heretofore preserved in the fiercest wars that have raged in civilized nations, detained a prisoner with his companions, and sent to the fortress of Olmutz, where he suffered a rigorous confinement." [and jumped out the window]
  2. Wise, 1873, Through the Air, p. 111. "Blanchard was the first person who ever constructed a parachute for the purpose of using it with a balloon in cases of accident while aloft. During an excursion which he took from Lisle, about the end of August, 1785, when he traversed, without halting, a distance not less than 300 miles, he let down a parachute with a basket fastened to it, containing a dog, from a great height, which fell gently through the air and let the animal down to the ground unhurt."
  3. Laufer, 1928, Prehistory of Aviation, p. 14.