Early Aerodynamicists

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.    Continue reading

Sam the Space Monkey: Not the First

sam02Sam the Space Monkey happens to be a favorite of mine. He’s the Rhesus monkey who took a spin on Little Joe 2 as part of the Mercury program back in the early 60′s. He obviously had no choice, yet to me he has always been a hero.

Turns out, Sam wasn’t the first animal to risk life and limb in the pursuit of scientific knowledge. The Montgolfier Brothers used animals in a lighter-than-air flight demonstration before King Louis XVI and Queen Marie Antoinette at Versailles on September 19, 1783. They weren’t about to send a human aloft because they had no idea what would happen to a human at altitudes as high as 1,500 feet. Wait! There’s more!

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