Who invented the parachute?

The word parachute comes from the French words ‘para’ and ‘chute’. Used together, they mean ‘to shield a fall’.

Parachutes had been first imagined and sketched by Leonardo da Vinci. They were reinvented in1783 by a French chemist, Louis Lenormand, who also was the first to make a parachute jump.

Subsequent development of the parachute focused on it becoming more compact. While the early parachutes were made of linen stretched over a wooden frame, in the late 1790s, Blanchard began making parachutes from folded silk, taking advantage of silk's strength and light weight. In 1797, André Garnerin made the first descent using such a parachute. Garnerin also invented the vented parachute, which improved the stability of the fall.

Today, parachutes are made from ‘rip-stop’ nylon that is woven with extra-thick thread at regular intervals, creating a pattern of small squares. This structure keeps small tears from spreading.