SHEILA TERRY / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY SHEILA TERRY / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Robert Cocking (1776-1837), amateur artist and parachute inventor. He was the first person to be killed using a parachute. In 1802, he saw the first parachute jump in England. He then developed a 32-metre wide, cone-shaped parachute, with a basket hanging beneath. The balloonists Charles Green and Edward Spencer agreed to use their balloon to test his device (see V320/118). The widely-advertised event was part of the Grand Day Fete at Vauxhall Gardens, London, on 24 July 1837. At a height of 1500 metres, in front of a large crowd, Cocking's descent began. After a few seconds, due to poor construction, the parachute turned inside out and broke up. Cocking plummeted to the ground and was killed instantly. Lithograph by L. Corbaux, from an artwork by J. B. Beech.
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