When was the first parachute jump? Leaps of faith personified

When was the first parachute jump? Today's Google Doodle highlights André-Jacques Garnerin's first daring leap from a balloon, that has continued to inspire toys, amusement park rides, science experiments, and imaginations for centuries.

Courtesy of Google
When was the first parachute jump? Today's interactive Google Doodle promises answers to questions like these through it's new answers engine.

One small drop for man, one giant leap for toys, amusement park rides, science experiments and imagination, today the Google doodle celebrates the 216th anniversary of the first parachute jump.

“The doodle is based on André-Jacques Garnerin's daring leap on Oct. 22, 1797 at Parc Monceau in Paris, which saw the then 28-year-old leap from a balloon using a seven-metre silk parachute that resembled an umbrella,” according to the Google doodle website.

The reason this event is important to parents is that without that first jump no little boy – or girl –  would ever have a plastic army man to toss off a balcony, no raw egg would make it safely to the ground when tossed off a building in a science class experiment, and Disneyland would be short the Parachute Drop ride which is a replica of Garnerin's basket drop.

Having four sons, I have seen more parachutes and been the victim of more airborne pranks than I can count.

My two older sons loved those little plastic army guys that come with a parachute. You could find the “air sailors” as my two older boys called them, in cereal boxes, birthday goody bags, and bubble gum machines at the supermarket.

When the two older boys were toddlers we lived aboard a sailboat down in Goodland, Fla. And we were worse than dirt poor, we were water poor.

One Christmas when we lived on the boat we had zero money and all I could afford was toys from the machine at the supermarket.

I cried and beat myself up over the worrying that I had failed them.

They opened all the handmade gifts and played happily enough until they began to unwrap the tiny packets containing the parachute men and began to whoop with total joy.

The little men who could float and catch the air currents in their little “sails” turned out to be their favorite toys for years to come, not that they lasted more than a few flights before needing repairs.

When we moved from the boat to land and an old log cabin in Medford, N.J. a few years later my sons’ greatest joy in life was launching the darn army “air sailors” off the balcony down into the living room to see who could land one in my morning coffee.

You never know where one little leap will take you. Those parachute men launched my sons’ fascination with science.

A few months ago my eldest son Zoltan, 19, informed me he intends to do a parachute jump as soon as it’s affordable.

While it scares me to pieces, I’m excited and amazed that one small toy derived from one great experiment by Garnerin's could give my kids’ imaginations so much air time.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.
Real news can be honest, hopeful, credible, constructive.
What is the Monitor difference? Tackling the tough headlines – with humanity. Listening to sources – with respect. Seeing the story that others are missing by reporting what so often gets overlooked: the values that connect us. That’s Monitor reporting – news that changes how you see the world.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.

QR Code to When was the first parachute jump? Leaps of faith personified
Read this article in
QR Code to Subscription page
Start your subscription today