Francois Reichelt, nicknamed the “Flying Tailor” was an Austrian-born tailor, inventor, and parachuting pioneer. He became obsessed with developing a suit that would easily convert into a parachute, allowing aviators to survive a fall if forced to eject from their aircraft. In his initial experiments, Reichelt dropped dummies suited with his original invention out the window of his fifth-floor apartment; Although these experiments were successful, tests on subsequent designs failed. Reichelt believed this to be because he was unable to test the suit from a high enough elevation. After repeatedly petitioning to conduct an experiment at the Eiffel Tower, he was finally granted permission.
On February 4, 1912 Francois Reichelt was greeted at the Eiffel Tower by a group of spectators. Although everyone presumed he would use a dummy to test his invention as he had done in previous experiments, he announced he would be testing the suit himself by jumping from the first platform of the tower located 58 meters/190 feet above the ground. Spectators and friends of Francois pleaded with him not to jump but he was determined. Although Francois Reichelt hesitated on the platform for some time, he eventually plunged off the tower. The parachute failed to deploy and Reichelt was killed on impact. The following video was taken at the Flying Tailor’s final experiment on February 4, 1912. The French text proceeding the video reads, “As if he had felt the horrible fate which awaited him, the unfortunate inventor hesitates long before launching into the void.”.
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