The Flying TailorI admire his desire to develop a parachute in the early days of aviation, unfortunately Mr. Reichelt may have turned out to be the world’s first-ever BASE jumper. As Wikipedia records:

Believing that the lack of a suitably high test platform was partially to blame for his failures, Reichelt repeatedly petitioned the Parisian Prefecture of Police for permission to conduct a test from the Eiffel Tower. He was finally granted permission in early 1912, but when he arrived at the tower on February 4th he made it clear that he intended to jump himself rather than conduct an experiment with dummies.

Despite attempts by his friends and spectators to dissuade him, he jumped from the first platform of the tower wearing his invention. The parachute failed to deploy and he crashed into the icy ground at the foot of the tower. The next day, newspapers were full of the story of the reckless inventor and his fatal jump — many included pictures of the fall taken by press photographers who had gathered to witness Reichelt’s experiment — and a film documenting the jump appeared in newsreels:

Beachgoers on the shores of the Sea of Azov in southern Russia region of Krasnodar were surprised and devistated by the cries of a donkey parachuting above them. The donkey was tied to a parachute as a promotional stunt. The shrills of the donkey led to the tears of children as people began filming the event and calling local newspapers. Not until later were regional police called. When did radio advertising and blimps not become enough?

The story was aired on Russia Today: