The Dream of Flying

Page 8




  Parachutes - Leonardo Da Vinci (1483) and Veranzio (1617)  
  Parachutes play an important role in the development of aircraft. Lenonardo da Vinci drew the one on the left image in one of his notebooks in 1483. In an accompanying note you can read: "If a man is provided with a length of gummed linen cloth with a length of 12 yards on each side and 12 yards high, he can jump from any great height whatsoever without injury".
Leonardo's parachute was tested in year 2000 by the Englishman Adrian Nicholas. The jumped from a hot air balloon at 3.000 m above the ground. The 85 kg heavy construction of canvas and wood brought him safely and smoothly to the ground.
The scientist Faust Vrančić (1551 - 1617), was born in Šibenik in today's Croatia. He is most known as Fausto Veranzio, his Italian name. In old age he moved to Hungary and later Venice.

Vrančić wrote a book on mechanics, Machinae Novae, which was edited in Venice 1595. The book was soon translated into several other languages. Vrančić had studied Leonardo da Vinci's sketches of a parachute, and in Machinae Novae, he presents a parachute design of his own. His parachute was a square device made of sailcloth spread over a light framework. The famous sketch of his parachute named Homo Volans is seen to the right below. Twenty years later, he implemented his design and tested the parachute by jumping from a tower in Venice in 1617. The successful event was documented some 30 years after it happened in a book written by John Wilkins, the secretary of the Royal Society in London.



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© Lars Henriksson

Updated 2009-05-13