Bring back some good or bad memories


August 12, 2015

DEATH JUMP: Story of Franz Reichelt Jumps Off the Eiffel Tower on February 4, 1912

Franz Reichelt, an Austrian born French tailor, had been fascinated by flight for many years. After seeing the practicality of the “Aeroplane” he became obsessed with inventing a parachute which would enable them to bail out safely.

The Design

Reichelt had already performed several tests on dummies from his 5th floor apartment with little success, in 1911 the Aero Club de France offered 10,000 francs to whoever could demonstrate a successful parachute design, which spurred Reichelt on.

The suit itself resembled “a sort of cloak fitted with a vast hood of silk”. It’s total surface area was roughly 30-32 metres sq. (320-340 ft sq) and weighed a total of 9kgs (20lbs).

The Setup

After successfully petitioning the French Chief of Police to test his design on a dummy from the first stage of the Eiffel Tower, Reichelt wasted no time in drumming up interest amongst journalists. He announced the test would take place at around 8am on February 4th 1912. Reichelt arrived, by car accompanied by two friends, at 7am dressed in his parachute to a crowd of anxious onlookers, who were cordoned off outside the drop-zone.

The Jump

There were two camera crews at the scene, one with Reichelt at the jump spot and another at the bottom filming the “landing”. It quickly became apparent that Reichelt had not brought a dummy with him to test his parachute on and that his intention had always been to trial it himself. Initially he was stopped by a guard who argued with Reichelt before letting him continue. As he climbed the stairs he paused, turned back to the crowd, raised his hand and wished them a cheery “A bientot!”. His friends continued to try to talk him out of the jump, but Reichelt was quite determined. Observed by a crowd of about thirty journalists and curious onlookers, he readied himself – facing towards the Seine – on a stool placed on a restaurant table next to the interior guardrail of the tower's first deck. Despite the protests of the crowd and the police Reichelt leapt from the tower at 8:22am. The entire jump was filmed.

The Aftermath

Almost immediately the suit folded in on itself and provided little help as Reichelt plummeted towards the ground. Reichelt was pronounced dead at the scene. He had fallen roughly 57m (187ft) and crushed his skull and spine. The ground was frozen solid, the temperature was below freezing, yet his impact left a crater over 15cm (6in) deep. In a cruel twist, only 2 days earlier an American Jockey, Frederick R. Law, had successfully parachuted from the torch of the Statue of Liberty over 63m (223ft) using the now widely recognised half-sphere design. Sadly, Reichelt is not remembered as an aviation pioneer. Instead his story is regarded as another example of human stupidity and hubris.

Here’s the shocking video featured Franz Reichelt wearing the parachute that he designed and invented before ascending the Eiffel Tower. Reichelt standing on platform high up on the tower preparing to jump he hovers on the brink for some time and then eventually jumps falling straight down to his death. Police and small crowd around the body of Reichelt as it is carried away, they then measure the depth of the hole made by his fall.



Browse by Decades

Popular Posts


09 10