The Flying Tailor

by M-Rebeiro

The surface area of Franz Reichelt's parachute was 320 square feet and once deployed, had a canopy height of five feet.

Franz Reichelt was an Austrian-born French inventor and tailor who was to become a great parachuting pioneer. Reichelt had been obsessed with the idea of developing a suit that would itself convert into a parachute upon jumping and had been relentlessly testing mostly successful prototypes with dummies.

At the time there was no parachute that had successfully been employed in a jump from an aircraft. In 1911, a prize of $10,000 francs was offered by a Colonel in the French airforce for the invention of a safety parachute for aviators. Reichelt tried many variations of his parachute suit. It’s even reported that he broke a leg when he jumped from a 26 foot height.

For many years Reichelt had been applying for permission to conduct a test from the Eiffel Tower. On February 4th, 1929, however, he decided to test a suit of his own design by himself by jumping off the Eiffel Tower with it. The event was filmed by the media with many pictures and video existing of his jump and his subsequent fall to his death.

Some reports say that the official cause of death was a massive heart attack that happened before he hit the ground. This is reasonable when you consider that not only was he hurtling towards the ground at terrible speeds in a few seconds but that he realized his prized invention was a failure.

Read more:

1912 Eiffel Tower Jump | WFMU

Franz Reichelt | Wikipedia

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