On this day October 22, 1797

One thousand meters (3,200 feet) above Paris, André-Jacques Garnerin makes the first recorded parachute jump.

André-Jacques Garnerin parachute

He carried out the first jump with a Silk parachute on October 22, 1797 at Parc Monceau, Paris. Garnerin’s first parachute resembled a closed umbrella before he ascended, with a pole running down its center and a rope running through a tube in the pole, which connected it to the balloon.

Garnerin rode in a basket attached to the bottom of the parachute; at a height of approximately 3,000 feet (900 m) he severed the rope that connected his parachute to the balloon. The balloon continued skyward while Garnerin, with his basket and parachute, fell.

The basket swung during descent, then bumped and scraped when it landed, but Garnerin emerged uninjured. His wife Jeanne-Geneviève was the first female parachutist; as no real material parachute can sustain its entire flight without some positive above-zero glide ratio, then for some, if not almost all of her descent was in a gliding parachute (subset of hang gliders) and thus she was the best candidate for being the first woman hang glider rider.

The couple even toured to England in 1802 during the Peace of Amiens, with André-Jacques ascending in his balloon from the Volunteer Ground in Grosvenor Square and making a parachute descent to a field near St Pancras.


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