SHEILA TERRY / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY SHEILA TERRY / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
First parachute design. Parachute designed and drawn by the Italian inventer Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519). Leonardo was the first person to suggest using a parachute to slow a person's rate of fall. At lower left is some of the mirror hand- writing that he used to keep his ideas secret. Leonardo devoted many years of research into studying flight and designing potential aircraft. Like many of his projects, the parachute design was never published and the parachute was never actually constructed. After Leonardo's death his notes lay unnoticed in a library until 1796, just a few years after parachutes had been re-invented by Frenchman Jean-Pierre Blanchard.
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