Today is a big day in fluid dynamic history! It’s the 216th anniversary of the first successful parachute jump. Andre-Jacques Garnerin (1769-1823) accomplished this feat by going aloft attached to the bottom of a hot air balloon.
“I was on the point of cutting the cord that suspended me between heaven and earth… and measured with my eye the vast space that separated me between heaven and earth…” Garnerin wrote. He cut the cord and “I felt myself precipitated with a velocity that was checked by the sudden unfolding of my parachute.”
Garnerin was one of many intrepid men who put their lives on the line to test their aerodynamic theories. Read more about them in Modeling Ships and Space Craft: The Science and Art of Mastering the Oceans and Sky by Gina Hagler.