History And Working Principle of Parachutes


The desire to fly in the sky like a bird has been cherished by people for a long time. People have deliberately tried to fly. A lot of scientists had tried to fly in the open sky. Abbas-Ibn-Firnas is the first man who successfully flew and the time period was about one thousand years before the Wright Brothers flew. Not only them, but a lot more people tried this thing also. But their name hasn’t been preserved in history. The world has got written names of some talented and brave people like Fausto Veranzio or Louis-Sébastien Lenormand who did their job on parachutes.

A lot of people have shown many heroisms with parachutes. An adventurous skydiver named Felix Baumgartner showed the courage to jump to the ground from a height of 1 lakh and 26 thousand feet. Although skydiving is a hobby, parachutes are the main component of survival from a plane disaster today.

History And Working Principle of Parachute

History of Parachute

Many people had been trying to make parachutes for a long time.  Abbas Ibn Firnas was able to fly like a bird successfully in the ninth century but his efforts were not like the current parachute. An Italian handicraft from the Renaissance of the 1480s depicts a man with an object much like today's parachute and that is the oldest something tills now that depict parachute.

In approx. 1475, the well-known Leonardo da Vinci drew a picture of a pyramid-shaped parachute in his book Codex Atlanticus. Later, in 1818, Fausto Veranzio of Croatia jumped from a high tower in Venice with his self-made parachute. Although his trial didn’t work properly, he did not experience any major accidents due to strongly blowing winds.

'Homo Volans', an illustration by Faust Vrančić.
'Homo Volans', an illustration by Faust Vrančić. Collected From Wikimedia Commons

In the year 1873, Louis-Sébastien successfully made the first usable parachute. Two years later, in 1875, Jean Blanchard successfully parachuted a dog for the first time in a box. Since then, the parachute has changed in different ways at different stages and has come to the present day.

The first use of the word ‘Parachute’

In 1875, Louis-Sébastien used the word 'parachute' for the first time. He added two French words ‘para’, meaning defense, and ‘suit’, meaning fall. He uses the word to put the two together. It literally means - defense against fall.

History of Para-Jumping

22nd October 1898, it is said that the first parachute jump was recorded on this day. There have been countless parachute jumps from then to this day. In 1908, Charles jumped on the parachute and brought the improvement of the modern parachute to the attention of the people. Franz Reichelt died on February 4, 1912, while parachuting. On October 14, 2012, Felix Baumgartner jumped out of space. There are various competitions in para jumping now. Only in the United States, 3.3 million parachute jumps were recorded in the single year of 2016.

How does Parachute Work?

Almost all of us have heard of the story of a fallen apple on the head of the scientist Sir Isaac Newton, from which he discovered gravity. Anything dropped from the top will fall to the bottom, which is normal. He explained why it occurs this way. Every freely falling object will fall down at a speed of 9.8 meters per second. The longer it continues to fall, the faster it will touch the ground. 

According to this rule, if a bird's feather and a large stone are also released from above, they should also touch the ground at the same time. But in reality, it does not occur. The rock itself arrives earlier, as it can overcome the wind barrier better than a bird's feather. 

The lower the wind resistance of the object, the slower it will fall. On the other hand, the higher the wind barrier on an object, the slower it will fall. Parachutes basically do the job of increasing this barrier. It uses the wind to stay afloat against gravity for a long time.

Parachutes work by allowing people to safely touch the ground by reducing their marginal velocity. The design of the parachute was designed to reduce the speed by up to ninety percent.

The parachute wing is used to reduce gravitational acceleration and speed by using wind. The direction changes by changing the shape of the wing with the steering wheel in the hand of the flying man. The wings have been shown solely to give a sense of proportion. When flying, they behave like a solid. The modern parachute wing is made up of seven to nine separate air-filled cells, which work together during the flying state. The front of each cell is slightly exposed, through which air enters the cells.

Currently, rectangular air-filled cell parachutes are widely used, but those half-balloon-shaped parachutes are still being used in military fields. One of the main reasons for this is that more people can land better in less space using this parachute.

The rounded parachutes are made up of 10 parts. At the very top is the pilot suite, with which the main parachute is being opened. The pilot suit and the original parachute are attached with a bridle. The main part of the parachute is called the canopy. There are also skirts, suspension lines, control lines, and many more parts.

Whether it's a modern parachute or an old one, it remains in a backpack called a container. It has two parachutes. If one does not work for some reason, the second one will be opened; This is called a reserve parachute. Though about 999 parachutes per thousand are opened on the first attempt, reserve parachutes are kept with utmost importance for security.

All in all, it is difficult to fully explain how parachutes work; However, it was an attempt to describe what the main work is. The main task is to make the man slow by lowering the gravitational acceleration of the skydiver by using the wind. The parachute slows down a skydiver to 5 to 6 meters per second. So that as soon as he touches the ground he can walk or run a bit normally. 


1. Who can pack a parachute?

Ans: Special certificates are required to pack the parachute into the container. In the question of the safety of skydivers, reserve parachute packing is done in a slightly more complex process. Only FAA-certified recipients can pack reserve parachutes.

2. What qualification does it need to get an FFA Certificate?

Ans: To get this certificate, an interested person must be at least 18 years old, as well as have good skills in English. After that, only if s/he can successfully pack 20 reserve parachutes, s/he will get an FAA certificate. It is worth mentioning that in order to get a skydiving license, one has to obtain a certificate in parachute packing first. 

3. How does it take to pack a parachute? 

Ans: Packing a parachute usually takes about 10 to 15 minutes.

4. Who is the first man to fly?

Ans: Abbas Ibn Firnas is the first man who successfully flew and that was in 9th century. He flew for about 10 minutes.



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