The Parachute

Leonardo da Vinci’s Parachute

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Leonardo da Vinci’s Parachute most likely came about as he was testing the feasibility of one of his flying machines. Although he himself probably did not get into any of the machines (most likely one of his apprentices – Leonardo would have been an old man at the time) he still would have realized that the designs were unstable and/or downright dangerous.

As you can see from the image above it simply shows a man hanging onto the parachute by his bare hands – it is a very simplified design for Leonardo.

To the left hand side of the parachute drawing are the words (in typical mirror writing) -

 

“If a man have a tent made of linen of which the apertures (openings) have all been stopped up, and it be twelve braccia (about 23 feet) across and twelve in depth, he will be able to throw himself down from any great height without suffering any injury.”
 

He clearly had confidence in his own design and had done some mathematical calculations, possibly based on some of his wind resistance and friction studies. But the question remains -

Would the parachute work?

The answer to that is….Yes.

500 years after it was designed in June 2000, Leonardo da Vinci’s parachute was tested by a team of enthusiasts and parachutists. The only modification made was to strengthen the harnesses holding the parachutist in place, this was a modern harness. The guinea pig (Adrian Nicholas)would also carry his own modern parachute, just in case. Thankfully it was not needed as Leonardo’s parachute worked just as the designer had imagined and stated -

So essentially, combining the glider, parachute, landing gear and helicopter, Leonardo almost invented all modern forms of air transport, unfortunately as is nearly always the case, Leonardo was born several centuries before the rest of humanity and the science of the time was ready for him.