A parachute is a canopy with a large surface area attached to a person that opens up once released to create a large amount of air resistance. This aids in slowing the descent of a person falling towards the earth from high altitude to the point where they can hit the ground safely. Parachutes are often deployed upon exit of aircraft or even after jumping off tall structures such as building and bridges, as is done in BASE jumping. Parachuting in the military serves the purpose of saving the lives of pilots fleeing damaged aircraft and is also often used as a fast means for troops to infiltrate enemy territory. Civilians may parachute for the purpose of entertainment, though it is against the law to do so from most buildings. The use of parachuting in games reflects these real world uses, military themed games use it for survival and travel.
The first recorded history of creating a parachute was by Leonardo Da Vinci. Though Da Vinci never tested his design himself, it was to be the beginning of what has led to the modern day parachute. (www.paraframe.org) The Chinese also were some of the first people to attempt parachuting. They would have acrobats, which would drop from high stands holding onto umbrellas, which would allow them to swirl and spin before landing. (library.thinkquest.org)
After DA Vinci, it was not until 1785 when Jean Pierre Blanchard, a balloonist in France, took Da Vinci’s design and put it to the test. (Paratrooper, 1-2) Blanchard took a dog attached a harness to it, then, using a hot air balloon, he rose to an altitude of about 200-300 feet. Then he released the dog with the crude parachute. Lucky for the dog, and to the happiness of Jean Pierre Blanchard, the dog landed safely on the streets of Paris. This success with the parachute ensured the evolution of the parachute continued.
The first man to ever jump from a plane in flight was Albert Berry, on March 12, 1912 (paratrooper, 12). He was taken up to an altitude of 500-700 feet before returning safely to the ground with his parachute.
After this it became a bit of a race to be the person to create the best parachute that would show the best performance. After Charles Broadwick invented the static line parachute, it brought the parachutes to a whole new level. Shortly after this, an American invented the parachute coat. The coat helped with one of biggest problems: the dislocation of joints. The parachute coat distributes the shock throughout ones body. With both of these new additions to the parachute, it’s popularity spread and eventually was used by the military.