I can’t help it, I’m a sucker for Google Doodles. I’m like a kid in a candy store whenever I pop open my browser and see a new one in the morning. Today’s celebrates the 216th anniversary of a guy with gigantic balls. a.k.a. the first guy to say to himself, “hot air balloons aren’t cool. You know what’s cool? Jumping out of hot air balloons.”

Who was this brazen thrill seeker? Andre-Jacque Garnerin who jumped on October 22, 1797 from a balloon above Parc Monceau in Paris. The Frenchman used a seven-meter silk parachute resembling an umbrella to ease his path to the ground.

Fun Fact: The word “parachute” actually predates the first parachute jump by 12 years. Coined by the French aeronaut François Blanchard (1753–1809) in 1785 the word “parachute” comes from the French prefix paracete, originally from the Greek, meaning to protect against, and chute, the French word for “fall,” and it was originally coined, as a hybrid word which meant literally “that which protects against a fall.”

The concept of a parachute had been around for hundreds of years by the time Garnerin made his historic jump.

The oldest known depiction of a parachute, by an anonymous author (Italy, 1470s)

The oldest known depiction of a parachute, by an anonymous author (Italy, 1470s)

Veranzio's 1595 parachute design titled "Flying Man"

Veranzio’s 1595 parachute design titled “Flying Man”

Hint: Use the left/right arrow keys to move the little parachute guy back and forth on his way down to see different parts of the doodle.

Posted by James Poling

A socialist, tinkerer, thinker, question asker and all around curiosity seeker. If you'd like to reach me you can use the contact link above or email me at jamespoling [at] gmail [dot] com.

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