Fly Like a Bird

According to myth, the craftsman Daedalus, fleeing the wrath of King Minos, made wings secured with wax for himself and his son, Icarus. “Don’t go too low, or water will weigh the wings down; Don’t go too high, or the Sun’s fire will burn them,” Daedalus advised his son. Unfortunately, Icarus, as keen as he was on flying, violated the latter part of his father’s instruction. Like any legend, this story was a mere allegory until, one day, a daredevil decided to take it literally.

Don’t Go Too High

On October 22, 1797, the Frenchman André-Jacques Garnerin unfastened the basket of his hot air balloon at an altitude of 2,231 ft. No, it wasn’t a suicide attempt. This was a test of a prototype of the parachute — the first in the world, and Garnerin himself became the first parachutist in history.

The French daredevil was a big fan of balloons. Therefore, it is not surprising that he also thought about parachutes — aeronautics was an extremely dangerous occupation. The invention did not save Garnerin’s life, though — he died in a construction accident in 1823 when he was hit by a wooden beam while making another one of his balloons.

André-Jacques Garnerin’s first parachute, which he tested himself in Parc Monceau, Paris on October 22, 1797
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