ParachuteThough credit for the invention of the first practical parachute usually goes to Sebastien Lenormand in 1783, Leonardo da Vinci actually conceived the parachute idea a few hundred years earlier.

Da Vinci made a sketch of the invention with this accompanying description: "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."

Perhaps the most distinct aspect of da Vinci’s parachute design was that the canopy was triangular rather than rounded, leading many to question whether it would actually have enough air resistance to float. And since da Vinci’s parachute was to be made with linen covering a wood frame, the hefty weight of the device also was viewed as an issue.

Like many of da Vinci’s ideas, the invention was never actually built or tested by Leonardo himself. But, in 2000, daredevil Adrian Nichols constructed a prototype based on da Vinci’s design and tested it. Despite skepticism from experts, da Vinci’s design worked as intended and Nichols even noted that it had a smoother ride than the modern parachute.

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