Toward the end of WWI, it became clear to the U.S. government that pilots needed parachutes to better save their lives. So, they set up a crack team to come up with a practical and workable design.
Parachutes have come a long way since Leonardo da Vinci sketched the first one over 500 years ago. They have evolved from 18th century oddity to wartime lifesaver to the ultimate thrill-seeking activity. And now they are being designed to drop astronauts on alien planets. But perfecting these highly sophisticated devices has been a risky endeavor for the pioneers who design them. Join us as we tell the untold story of parachutes, from the people who build them, test them, and those who owe their lives to them.
Now, you can watch Smithsonian Channel's incredible documentaries and shows anytime you want by purchasing from any of these distributors:
Access even more free Smithsonian Channel full episodes and documentaries online through participating TV providers.
Find out if your television provider carries Smithsonian Channel on air.
Don't panic! It's simple to upgrade to the latest version of one of these browsers:
Don't panic! To get the best possible experience on smithsonianchannel.com we recommend you upgrade your operating system.
For the best possible site experience, please use Chrome for Android.
Add username "SmithsonianChan" on Snapchat for fun and fascinating facts. We'll be sharing spontaneous photos and videos as inspiration strikes.