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An Austrian tailor named Franz Reichelt met with a terrible death on February 4, when, m order to test a parachute garment he had invented for the saving of aviators m danger, he jumped from the Eiffel Tower and was instantly killed. Reichelt had all the blind confidence of the average inventor m the efficacy of his appliance It was a voluminous garment made of indiarubber ancl stretched taut on a framework of light metal. It was* wora like an overcoat, and at the top was a large hood made of silk. When not m use the hood was folded flat at the back of the garment. By means of a series of pulleys and cords an aviator, threatened with a fall from midair, had simply to extend his arms sharply at right angles to his body. This brisk movement, the inventor declared, would unfailingly have the effect of elevating the hood or parachute. In this position it would catch the air m much the same way as the ordinary parachute, and the resistance so created would enable the aviator m peril of his life to jump overboard from his aeroplane and sail gracefully to earth without the risk even of a sprained ankle. Reichelt put his appliance to the severest tests.

In the courtyard of his apartment m the Rue de Gillon he daily for some weeks gave exhibitions, and, to the horror of the concierge and the other tenants, he was wont at all hours of the day to. launch " mannequins," or lay-figures, clothed hi his garment, from one of the windows of the topmost floor. His mannequins, however, invariably arrived m the courtyard head first, and smashed their waxen skulls. Nothing daunted, Reichelt made certain modifications m the appliance, and at last he succeeded m getting one of his " mannequins " to alight gracefully feet first, and without any apparent trace of injury. Reichelt planned a demonstratfon from the Eiffel Tower, intending to jump down himself.

After persistent pleading, the Prefect of Police'gave the inventor permission to experiment with mannequins f/om the tower. Armed with this authority, and accompanied by two friends, a band of photographers, .and a cinematograph operator, the inventor went to the tower, but was refused permission to ascend, as he had not brought his experimental figures. Having lulled the policeman's suspicions, Reichelt donned 'his garment, and, after standing a moment with folded arms, jumped from the first floor of (he tower to the ground, a distance of 306 ft. A moment of intense anxiety on the part of bis friends was succeeded by a feeling of horror whe.i it s§en that the parachute garment had failed to act.

The luckless Reichelt was d *shed to instant death, and his maimed body was found lying with the tattered remnai's of his life-saving dress clinging round his back. Several spectators', rho watched the fatal experiment

through field glasses, assert that the unfortunate invento.* when he jumped failed to extend his arms, either through nervousness or forgetfulness, or with the deliberate intention of committing suicide.

Before he ascended the tower one of his friends tried to dissuade him trom his rash attempt. " Wait there," said Reichelt ; " I will be down directly." He kept his word, but it was a lifeless body his friend met below.

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Bibliographic details

INVENTOR'S DEATH LEAP., Otautau Standard and Wallace County Chronicle, Volume VII, Issue 361, 9 April 1912

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INVENTOR'S DEATH LEAP. Otautau Standard and Wallace County Chronicle, Volume VII, Issue 361, 9 April 1912

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