The historian J. Duhem has established that L.S. Lenormand read this
passage a century later, was stimulated to make trials, jumping from the
tops of trees and buildings, and was quite successful. In 1783, Lenormand
gave the invention its name of 'parachute'.
Lenormand told the brothers Joseph and ttienne Montgolfier about it,
and the famous pioneering balloonists were then responsible for A'.J. Garnerin's
jump from a balloon with a parachute in 1797. This was a direct result of
a Westerner having witnessed Chinese parachutes. Needham remarks, aptly:
'There are not many cases in which so clear a line of transmission is
It should be noted that the parachutes used in Siam in 1687 were just
the same as the one used by the thief at Canton five hundred years earlier,
namely, a pair of umbrellas. It is quite possible that the Cantonese thief
was himself a professional acrobat, and therefore knew how to use the parachute
successfully - and even more important, had the confidence to jump. Probably
the pair of umbrellas was a stock-in-trade of the highest calibre acrobats
for hundreds of years.
In June 1985 a woman named Yang You-hsiang of Liao-chiao in Hopei
Province in China was carried 550 yards in the air by a tornado. She landed
safely because she had been carrying an open umbrella, which acted as a
parachute. Her only injuries were from hailstones. (London Daily Telegraph,
22 June 1985.) Clearly very much in the national tradition!
Chinese "Templle of Haven" parachute. It is brightly coloured and in multiple
stages. Believed to be the only one outside China, it belongs to Derek Newberry,
who lives in the south-west of England, where he is here seen jumping with