This Day in History – August 2nd, 1819

On this day in 1819, a man fell 8000 feet out of the sky and landed in Brooklyn, New York. His name was Charles Guille and this was the first parachute jump in America, but not the first in the world. The first ever jump was on October 22nd, 1797 just outside Paris in France when André-Jacques Garnerin made a 3000 foot descent.

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Garnerin began experiments with early parachutes based on umbrella-shaped devices and carried out the first parachute descent (in the gondola) with a silk parachute at Parc Monceau. His first parachute resembled a closed umbrella before he ascended, with a pole running down its center and a rope running through a tube in the pole, which connected it to the balloon. Garnerin rode in a basket attached to the bottom of the parachute; at a height of approximately 3,000 feet (1,000 m) he severed the rope that connected his parachute to the balloon. The balloon continued skyward while Garnerin, with his basket and parachute, fell. The basket swung violently during descent, then bumped and scraped when it landed, but Garnerin emerged uninjured.

One might think that Garnerin’s death would have been from a failed descent, but actually it was a construction accident on 18 August 1823 that ended his life; he was hit by a wooden beam while making a balloon in Paris.

Also on August 2nd, 1876Wild Bill Hickok was shot while playing poker.

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