The 216th anniversary of the first parachute jump inspires Google Doodle

22 Oct 2013

The Google Doodle celebrating the 216th anniversary of the first parachute jump

Centuries before Felix Baumgartner jumped to earth from the edge of space, there was Andre-Jacque Garnerin. Internet search giant Google is marking the 216th anniversary of Garnerin’s jump – the first parachute jump – from a balloon above Parc Monceau in Paris with an animated and interactive Google Doodle.

The stylised Google logo on the search engine’s homepage depicts a man, complete with top hat, in a basket, being pulled up into the air by a balloon. Then, the balloon disappears and the man glides to the ground with what looks like an umbrella attached to the basket.

Visitors to the Google homepage today can use the right and left arrow keys on their keyboards to help navigate the daredevil back down to the ground.

On 22 October 1797, Garnerin used a seven-metre umbrella-like silk parachute to return to terra firma. When his balloon reached 914 metres (3,000 feet) above the park, he cut his basket loose and opened the parachute. His landing was anything but smooth, but he was uninjured.

Garnerin’s feat garnered him international celebrity status and the title of Official Aeronaut of France.

He died on 18 August 1823 in Paris, after being struck by a falling beam while on the construction site for a new balloon. He was 54.

Tina Costanza was a journalist and sub-editor at Silicon Republic