Today, February 4, marks the 100 year anniversary of the high-speed death of Franz Reichelt, the man known as the Flying Tailor, and would-be parachuting pioneer. (Video below.)
In 1912, the Austrian-born French dressmaker, having realized a dire need for a proper parachute that could be worn by aviators, sought to invent such a device himself. While the parachute was nothing new, earlier forms required that the canopy already be open before the jump, or were otherwise too bulky to be worn by pilots. And so, Reichelt worked to develop a lightweight suit that could be deployed as needed.
His initial experiments, which employed the use of dummies dropped from buildings, weren't very successful. Believing, however, that part of his problem was a lack of available height, Reichelt petitioned authorities to allow an attempt at the Eiffel Tower in Paris. ... Continued