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The last known photo ever taken of Franz Reichelt, an Austrian-born French tailor, who is posing here in a parachute of his own design, before jumping off the Eiffel Tower.
Everyone has a dream, and even though some of them may sound outlandish we still chase them with the fervor of a dog chasing tires. Franz Reichelt saw the future. He understood that he could save the lives of his peers and people he never met by using air resistance, he just didn’t know exactly how to do it.
With air travel becoming a normal way of life in the early 20th century, Colonel Lalance of the Aéro-Club de France offered a prize of 10,000 francs to anyone with the ability to create a working parachute. Reichelt was a tailor and he used his knowledge of fabric to create foldable silk wings and something called a “parachute-suit” that fit like a normal flight suit but with an added canopy, and rubber lining.
On the morning of February 4th, 1912 Reichelt revealed that he would jump from the Eiffel Tower to prover the efficiency of his parachute-suit, saying, “I want to try the experiment myself and without trickery, as I intend to prove the worth of my invention.” At 8:22 am he leapt from the Eiffel Tower and sank through the air like a stone.
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