Looking back on Andre-Jacque Garnerin’s parachute ‘drop‘ of 1797, we can easily say that his parachute had to work. He, of course, had no way of knowing his parachute would work or that it would slow him sufficiently for a safe landing. He also had no experience with making a safe landing. That didn’t stop him. In fact, that didn’t stop any of the early aerodynamic innovators.
True to the process of scientific discovery, Garnerin’s parachute experiment would not have been possible without the work of those who came before him – most notably the Montgolfier Brothers.
It was the Montgolfier’s who first tested a hot air balloon. Nothing like it had ever been attempted. The popular reaction to the first crashed hot air balloon – to attack it with shovels and pitchforks. It makes sense if you think about it. None of these people had ever seen anything but birds in flight.
To make sure a hot air balloon trip would be safe for humans, a sheep, a duck, and a rooster were sent aloft as a test in 1783.
Read more about the Montgolfier Brothers and early aviators in Modeling Ships and Space Craft: The Science and Art of Mastering the Oceans and Sky.