Who came up with the idea for the parachute? Was it the brilliant Leonardo DaVinci or was it the ancient crafters of China? In 1485, DaVinci sketched detailed designs for a parachute. But also, we have a Chinese tale from 86 BC by historian Sima Qian. It tells of an emperor using something like a parachute to avoid a dangerous fall.

Between these tales, there are whispers. People might have tried using large hats or umbrellas to slow their fall. Still, it was DaVinci’s brilliant sketches that started to shape the parachute we recognize.

First, let’s look at skydiving. It began as a risky experiment and grew into a popular sport full of thrills. So, who was the first brave soul to conquer gravity and lead the way for today’s skydivers?

In this exploration of skydiving history, we delve into the origins, the daredevils, thrilling milestones, and the present state of this exhilarating activity.

Who invented skydiving?

Skydiving, as we know it now, began with Leonardo da Vinci. In 1483, da Vinci sketched a triangular parachute, a blueprint for controlled human flight.

Yet, it was André-Jacques Garnerin who made history in 1797. He made a successful parachute jump from a hydrogen balloon over Paris, starting skydiving as a practical activity.

Moreover, Garnerin’s first jump from 3,200 feet with a silk parachute wasn’t just a bold act. Instead, it sparked a legacy. His adventure captured the public’s interest and set a standard for skydiving as a skillful and daring sport

The history of skydiving

Skydiving’s history is a thrilling narrative of courage and innovation:

  • Armen Firman (9th century): Early attempts at controlled descent using a cloak as a makeshift parachute.
  • Ancient Chinese adventurers: Pre-airplane era base jumping with the help of rigid parasols.

Key milestones in the development of the parachute:

  • Conical parachute concept (1470s): An Italian innovation possibly inspiring da Vinci.
  • Faust Vrančić (1617): Dubbed ‘Homo Volans’, or ‘the Flying Man’, after demonstrating a working parachute.
  • Louis-Sébastien Lenormand (1783): Shaping the modern parachute.
  • Jean-Pierre Blanchard: Inventor of balloon escape systems and a dramatic user of his own design in 1793.
  • André-Jacques Garnerin: Creator of the vented parachute, adding stability to the experience.

Connect With the Skies

  • Escape the Ordinary: Skydiving is your chance to break free from routine and embrace something truly remarkable.
  • A Style of Flight: Join the ranks of trailblazers who defied gravity and soared to new beginnings.
  • Become Part of the Story: Your skydive is more than a jump; it’s living history.

Skydiving isn’t just a sport; it’s a legacy of human curiosity and the relentless pursuit of the skies. Try it and give yourself a memory to share—a story that has been unfolding for centuries and still inspires awe and wonder today.

Modern Skydiving

  • Kathie Paulus: Captivated German audiences with her skydiving skills in the late 19th century.
  • Thomas Scott Baldwin: Made American history by parachuting from a balloon in San Francisco in 1885.

Milestones in the early 20th century:

  • Grant Morton (1911): Completed the first parachute jump from an airplane using a ‘throw-out’ type parachute.
  • Gleb Kotelnikov: Invented the knapsack parachute, paving the way for its widespread adoption.

Who was the first to skydive?

Meet André-Jacques Garnerin, recognized as the first skydiver. In 1797, he amazed Paris with a brave experiment. In a balloon high above the city, he cut loose and floated down with his own parachute. Thankfully, he landed safely.

Garnerin’s parachute was simple compared to today’s gear. Yet, his leap was a milestone. It sparked the beginning of skydiving. More than an inventor, Garnerin was a pioneer. He turned a dream, the thrill of flying, into a reality for us all.

Who was the first person to jump out of an airplane with a parachute?

On March 1, 1912, a major event took place. US Army Captain Albert Berry made the first parachute jump from an airplane in Missouri. He wore a ‘pack’ style parachute, setting a standard for others to follow. Captain Berry turned a bold idea into an amazing feat.

Shortly afterward, on June 21, 1913, Georgia “Tiny” Broadwick made history too. She became the first woman to parachute from a plane over Los Angeles. Then, in 1914, she experienced the thrill of free fall. These pioneers greatly advanced the world of parachuting.

Did the first skydiver survive?

Yes, imagine, if you will, the bustling city of Paris below as Monsieur Garnerin ascends to 2,000 feet, poised for a jump that would etch his name in history. In an epoch where such an act might be deemed sheer lunacy, he leaped from his balloon and, remarkably, lived to tell the tale—paving the way for countless more descents, Skydiving can be good for your health

Has a plane ever hit a skydiver?

Yes, such rare and tragic incidents have occurred. In 2023, over Southern France, just seconds into a skydive, a plane’s wing hit a skydiver named Galy. Sadly, this led to a fatal accident, as reported by The Times of London.

Furthermore, history records another event. In Deland, Florida, an unexpected collision happened. It was a peaceful day at Deland Municipal Airport until a plane, a de Havilland DHC-6 Twin Otter, crossed paths with a skydiver. This happened on April 23, 2005, when the plane, nearing Runway 23, collided with the skydiver.

When was tandem skydiving invented?

In 1983, a big change happened in parachuting. Ted Strong brought us tandem skydiving. He started skydiving in 1958 and also taught at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. Ted Strong played a key role in making parachuting what it is today.

Also, tandem skydiving became a popular way for many to enjoy the excitement of a freefall for the first time. Ted Strong, with his impressive 4,900 jumps, did more than invent a technique. Indeed, he created a whole new skydiving adventure that changed the sport forever.

How has skydiving evolved?

  • Ancient Beginnings & Renaissance Concepts
    • 1100s: Chinese using rigid umbrellas to leap towards the sky.
    • 1490s: Leonardo da Vinci sketches the early concept of a pyramid-shaped parachute.
  • 17th to 19th Century Innovations
    • 1617: Fausto Veranzio rumored to parachute from St Mark’s Campanile in Venice.
    • 1783: Louis-Sébastian Lenormand jumps from a Montpellier observatory.
    • 1797: André-Jacques Garnerin descends 3,000 feet above Paris in a silk parachute.
    • 1885: Capt. Thomas Scott Baldwin performs a public aircraft parachute descent.
  • Early 20th Century Developments
    • 1907: Charles Broadwick introduces the static line.
    • 1908: Albert Leo Stevens invents the ripcord.
    • 1911: Grant Morton and Albert Berry make the first jumps from an airplane.
    • 1914: Georgia “Tiny” Broadwick conducts pioneering freefall.
  • Military Adoption & Competitive Sport
    • 1918: General William Mitchell initiates lifesaving parachuting research.
    • 1930: First competitive parachuting in Russia. Rex G. Finney designs a wingsuit.
  • Post-War Era & Organizational Establishments
    • 1946: National Parachute Jumpers-Riggers, Inc. is established.
    • 1951: The inaugural World Parachuting Championships take place.
    • 1956: The first baton pass in mid-air introduces choreographed aerial performances.
    • 1959: The commercial drop zone in Orange, MA, opens. The STRAC team (later the Golden Knights) is formed.
  • Skydiving in the 1960s to 1980s
    • 1960s: Record-setting achievements, the invention of the ram-air parachute, and the creation of the 8-way star formation.
    • BASE jumping begins with El Capitan leaps in 1966.
    • 1975: “Wings” movie and Owen Quinn’s World Trade Center BASE jump push boundaries.
    • 1978: Carl Boenish uses ram-air parachutes for BASE jumping.
    • 1986: Introduction of sky surfing and the canopy formation world championships.
  • Modern Era Breakthroughs
    • 1994: Patrick de Gayardon revolutionizes skydiving with modern wingsuit flights.
    • 2006: A 400-way freefall formation sets a new record in Thailand.
    • 2012: Felix Baumgartner’s stratospheric jump marks a new era of skydiving.