Parachutes have been life savers, a boon for everyone in the aviation industry. Had it not been for the invention of the parachute and its subsequent improvements, skydiving would never have been fun. Credit for the invention of first practical parachute goes to Sebastien Lenormand who invented it in 1783. Centuries earlier, parachutes had been imagined and sketched by Leonardo Da Vinci!
Parachutes had to be held in the hand before taking a leap. An important improvement in the design of parachutes was the knapsack parachute which was invented by Russian, Gleb Kotelnikov. Kotelnikov graduated from military school in 1894. Around that time air shows were very common. Kotelnikov had gone to enjoy one such airshow when he witnessed the unfortunate death of Russian pilot, Lev Matsiyevich. This air tragedy got him thinking. He was determined to make a safety device so as to save pilots’ lives.
In 1911, Kotelnikov designed a parachute within a knapsack which could be worn at the back well in advance before jumping. It could be opened manually by pulling a cord. He received a patent for his invention in France. His parachute was named RK-1(Russian, Kotelnikov, Model 1). He improved the design of his parachute and created RK-2 which had a softer knapsack and RK-3.
Initially, governments were reluctant to give the parachute to their armed forces. It was used for the first time in World War I. Parachutes today are widely used for recreational purposes as well.
- Book: 1001 Inventions That Changed The World – Knapsack Parachute, Pg. 557
- Book: 1001 Inventions That Changed The World – Parachute, Pg. 220
- Knapsack parachute turns 100 – Spuknik News Agency And Radio
- Parachute – Wikipedia
- Gleb Kotelnikov – Wikipedia