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PostSubject: Parachutes   Thu 17 Apr 2014, 11:04

Following on from the Bloody April thread, one of the measures which could have been introduced to reduce the death toll was to issue aircrew with parachutes.

Parachutes were already issued to observation balloon crews, but not to heavier than air machines. In Britain, a practical aircraft parachute was invented by Everard Calthrop*, who invented his "Guardian Angel" static line parachute after witnessing the death of his friend Charles Rolls ( of Rolls-Royce) in an aircrash in 1910.

Despite the existence of this parachute, it was not adopted by the RFC. After being told to keep quiet about it, Calthrop, incensed by the losses the RFC was taking on the Western Front began publicly advertising his product. This footage from November 1917, shows Major Thomas Orde-Lees**, a New Zealander, use a Guardian Angel in a jump from Tower Bridge;




By the time the authorities got round too approving the design, the war was almost over and no British aircrew were issued with parachutes in WW1. In the 1920s an American, self contained ripcord design was finally approved for RAF use.

The Germans meanwhile adopted the Heineke parachute, also a static line design, and began issuing it to their aircrew in the Spring of 1918. The link has a diagram of how the parachute worked;

http://www.historynet.com/heinecke-parachute-a-leap-of-faith-for-wwi-german-airmen.htm

The illustrated "LO" plane is the aircraft of Ernst Udet, who made a successful bailout, though his parachute lines became entangled in the tailplane and Udet broke free only 200 feet above ground. Around 30% of all German bailouts were failures, high profile aces Erich Lowenhardt and Fritz Rumey both died due to parachute failure, given the option however a 70% chance was better than the alternative.


* Calthrop was by profession a railway engineer. He also had owned one of the finest stables of Arab horses in the world. On the outbreak of war, he had his horses humanely put down rather than have them commandeered by the Army.

** Yet another character this era threw up with surprising frequency, Orde -Lees had applied for, but was turned down for Scott's Terra Nova expedition. He did however succeed in becoming a member of Shackleton's Endurance expedition. By the time they got back to Britain the war was well underway. Orde-Lees joined the RFC, but at almost 40 was too old for combat flying. Testing parachutes was another matter, and he was quite happy to do so. Today we would call him an adrenaline junkie.
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PostSubject: Re: Parachutes   Fri 18 Apr 2014, 14:03

Footage of a much less successful jump from the Eiffel Tower by Franz Reichelt on the 4th February 1912;




I don't know if it's possible, but this thread might be better under Inventions and Technology rather than Wars and Conflict.
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PostSubject: Re: Parachutes   Fri 18 Apr 2014, 14:11

Duly moved!
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PostSubject: Re: Parachutes   Fri 18 Apr 2014, 14:20

Technology and Human Invention (or as I call it, magic) in action.

Thanks, Nordmann.
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PostSubject: Re: Parachutes   Fri 18 Apr 2014, 14:47

Louis-Sebastien Lenormand, the first man to be credited with making a parachute jump, and inventing the word "parachute"





http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Louis-S%C3%A9bastien_Lenormand
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PostSubject: Re: Parachutes   Thu 01 May 2014, 11:48

One of the earliest users [some sources say the first] of a parachute to escape from an aircraft, Lt Helmut Steinbrecher, wrote in his combat report,

"Up to that time I had been a Doubting Thomas in the matter of parachutes. I had been under the impression that baling out with a parachute from a single seater would be only rarely successful. And I did not know exactly what I had to do to get out of the plane. But in the moment when the flames licked my face, I knew at once what to do."
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PostSubject: Re: Parachutes   Thu 01 May 2014, 16:49

Spare a thought for Robert Cocking, the 61 year old watercolour artist and self-styled "amateur scientist" who, in 1837, decided to test his own "improved" parachute at the Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens in London. His improvements addressed the problem experienced by parachute pioneer André-Jacques Garnerin who 35 years earlier had made the first parachute jump in England and whose chute oscillated wildly on the way down. Cocking reckoned a cone rather than umbrella design was the answer and he persuaded the owners of the balloon The Royal Nassau to allow him to demonstrate his invention in front of thousands who had assembled in the gardens to witness his attempt.



The crowd saw Cocking and his chute bail out of the balloon late in the afternoon and begin what at first seemed a graceful descent to terra firma. Then disaster struck. It became immediately obvious that the chute was accelerating as it came down (Cocking had forgotten to include the weight of the parachute - 250 pounds - in his calculations). Then, to their horror, the whole contraption turned inside out and began to disintegrate (Cocking's expertise with needle and thread had proved somewhat less than with watercolour and brush). His body was later recovered from a field in Lee, near Lewisham.

Although later experiments conducted by pioneering American balloonist John Wise proved that Cocking's design would have worked if properly sized and better constructed, Wise also was the one to prove that the umbrella shape was indeed the best, the addition of a small vent being all that was required to cure the oscillation problem, something that Garnerin himself had suggested after his own earlier experience (Cocking was not great at doing research either, it seems).



Robert Cocking singlehandedly set the evolution and development of the parachute back by about 50 years, so great an impression had his disaster made on the public. In Britain it was to be 70 years before another Englishman, Charles Broadwick, would contribute some innovations to the design and demonstrate it at fairs before curiosity in Britain regarding the parachute's possible usefulness and practicability was reignited. The history of scientific experiment is replete with examples of Cocking Up, but it was to take the good Robert to demonstrate this concept in both name and act.
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PostSubject: Re: Parachutes   Mon 06 Oct 2014, 14:27

An exceptional piece of luck;

from wiki:

Flight Sergeant Nicholas Stephen Alkemade (1922–1987) was a rear gunner in Royal Air Force Avro Lancaster heavy bombers during World War II, who survived—without a parachute—a fall of 18,000 feet (5,500 m) when abandoning his out-of-control, burning aircraft over Germany.
On the night of 24 March 1944, 21-year-old Alkemade was one of seven crew members in Avro Lancaster B Mk. II, DS664, of No. 115 Squadron RAF. Returning from a 300 bomber raid on Berlin, east of Schmallenberg, DS664 was attacked by a Luftwaffe Ju 88 night-fighter, caught fire and began to spiral out of control. Because his parachute was unserviceable, Alkemade jumped from the aircraft without one, preferring to die by impact rather than burn to death. He fell 18,000 feet (5,500 m) to the ground below.
His fall was broken by pine trees and a soft snow cover on the ground. He was able to move his arms and legs and suffered only a sprained leg. The Lancaster crashed in flames, killing pilot Jack Newman and three other members of the crew. They are buried in the CWGC's Hanover War Cemetery.
Alkemade was subsequently captured and interviewed by the Gestapo, who were initially suspicious of his claim to have fallen without a parachute until the wreckage of the aircraft was examined. He was a celebrated prisoner of war, before being repatriated in May 1945. (Reportedly, the Germans gave Alkemade a certificate testifying to the fact.)
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PostSubject: Re: Parachutes   Sat 21 Nov 2015, 11:39

@Triceratops wrote:
Louis-Sebastien Lenormand, the first man to be credited with making a parachute jump, and inventing the word "parachute"

I had never given the word 'parachute' much thought before but as with the word 'television' it is a bit of a ghastly hybrid. Just as television should really be either 'teleorama' or 'transvision' so too parachute should be either 'paraptosi' or 'contrechute'. And yet in the end, however, the hybrid word develops a power and beauty all of its own.

There's a story from the 1970s about someone who was on a skydiving course with the British Army Parachute Association at Netheravon in Wiltshire. Apparently the drop went wrong and he came down way off target and by the county boundary with neighbouring Hampshire. To make matters worse the main chute had only partially deployed so the second emergency chute had also had to be used. It was a 'rough landing' in woodland and the parachutist got snagged by a tree. Luckily he reached the ground with only minor cuts and bruises.

In the days before mobile phones the parachutist then headed cross country to a nearby pub to use the telephone and call for help and a lift home. When he got through to Netheravon the voice said "Thank goodness you're alright but where on earth are you?". Turning to the pub landlord he asked "What's the address here?". The answer came back - "Hatchet Inn on Dummer Lane between Tangley and Lower Chute."
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PostSubject: Re: Parachutes   Sat 21 Nov 2015, 18:33

@Vizzer wrote:
...so too parachute should be either 'paraptosi' or 'contrechute'

I think the French coiners of the term can be exonerated, Vizzer - "para" in French is sometimes derived from the Latin "parare" (to ward off, defend against) and not always the Greek "para" (beside, near, against, through). It is cognate with "paravalanche" (snow fence) and "parafoudre" (lightning conductor).
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PostSubject: Re: Parachutes   Sun 22 Nov 2015, 10:05

One rather enigmatic parachute has proven to be the one that Rudolf Hess used when bailing out of his Me 110 near Glasgow in 1941. Following his arrest his crashed plane was picked apart by souvenir hunters. Apparently so too was his parachute, something one would have imagined constituted a vital piece of evidential material but which never made it into official custody along with its owner.

As the years have gone by various reports have come to light of the parachute, or at least parts of it, turning up in the "care" of Gorbals residents (Hess's landing place near the Eaglesham estate of Lord Hamilton being patrolled on the night by wardens and guards recruited largely from Glasgow's inestimable suburb). Some have even come to light and subsequently presented belatedly to experts from such diverse authorities as the Imperial War Museum and The Antiques Road Show TV programme for verification. In fact so many bits of it came to see the light of day again that one such expert, put on the spot by a radio interviewer one time, answered that the sheer diversity of fragments all having apparently been hidden so completely from the authorities by "ordinary people" for such a long time and in one small suburb of the city rather worked against the probability that any or all of them could in fact be genuine. To which the interviewer replied "You've never been to the Gorbals, have you?".
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PostSubject: Re: Parachutes   Sun 22 Nov 2015, 10:20

I doubt those fragments of Hess' parachute were taken as souvenirs ... given wartime rationing and shortages I expect the parchute silk was in fact made into thousands of pairs of ladies' stockings, knickers and negligées.
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PostSubject: Re: Parachutes   Sun 22 Nov 2015, 10:39

One bit at least apparently avoided such recycling.

ARP warden Wullie McGraw's missus produced a huge chunk of it (as reported by Chris McFarlane in his "The Real Gorbals Story: True Tales from Glasgow's Meanest Streets") which she had stored in a bedroom cupboard for decades and only felt safe in admitting to its presence to some local amateur historical sleuths after her one time warden Wullie's sad demise in the late 1970s. The group of enthusiastic historians, upon seeing what appeared to be a rather tatty and discoloured white blanket, challenged the old lady with "Is that aw ye've got tae show us, missus, an auld mingin' blanket?" (in historical research one has to be ruthlessly cynical at times). Old Mrs McGraw explained its provenance to her audience's satisfaction, with the exception of one of the company who still expressed surprise that such an important historical artefact could have found its way into a single end in the Gorbals. His colleague Alex set his mind at ease however when he explained that a lot of things that go missing in Scotland find their way into single ends in the Gorbals. The group thus satisfied, according to McFarlane, then all hopped on their bicycles and toddled down to Eaglesham to camp overnight in the vicinity of the crash site (local historians are not the same breed as their more national counterparts).

McFarlane's book doesn't say what happened to Mrs McGraw's blanket afterwards. One hopes that its provenance could indeed be verified and that it is now enjoying rather more public access than a Gorbals cupboard allowed.
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PostSubject: Re: Parachutes   Fri 11 Dec 2015, 13:49



"Homo Valens" (the Flying Man) is a picture by Fausto Veranzio, the renowned 16th/17th century Croatian polymath and inventor, from his book "Machinæ Novæ". However it may be more than just a picture - it may actually represent the first completely successful parachute jump (others, using contraptions based on Da Vinci's famous design, had ended up dead or with broken bones). Veranzio, it was reputed to state in the marvellously titled " Mathematical Magick or, the Wonders that may be Performed by Mechanical Geometry" by John Wilkins in 1648, put his design to the test in the rather public setting of St Mark's Square in Venice from the top of its eponymous campanile. Even more impressively the man was 65 years of age at the time, it was reported.

However the problem with this story is that extant copies of Wilkins' book exist and can be checked and, unfortunately for Veranzio, neither he nor his contraption are referenced at all (though several other wondrous flying machines are discussed, right enough). So, while the story is still widely believed in Venice and especially in Fausto's birthplace of Sibenik even today, the view in academia is that Veranzio's achievement is alas "unproven".

But even if the geriatric Geronimo ejaculator is a thing of myth, one still has to take one's hat off to Veranzio, a man who in a fair world would be held in as much esteem as Da Vinci for his inventive and extensive genius. Dodgy parachutes aside, we do know that he successfully stopped the Tiber from regularly flooding Rome (one good thing a pope has done - having employed him to build river regulation machinery), wrote a comprehensive dictionary in five languages (Latin, Italian, German, Hungarian and Croation - those he considered the "noble" tongues), a best-selling theology book and several widely read history books, was the first to posit the existence of universal time (and a universal clock to measure it), invented several pieces of agricultural machinery, a portable boat, a two-seater mule saddle (one of his most popular inventions at the time) and amongst other mill designs, one powered by tidal flow (a concept only put into actual use in recent years, its feasibility as suggested by Veranzio long doubted but now shown to have been correct). While doing all this he held down his day job - being a Catholic bishop, no less!

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PostSubject: Re: Parachutes   Thu 06 Oct 2016, 13:17

This rescue system was dropped 20 years ago as longer range helicopters are more reliable:

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PostSubject: Re: Parachutes   Thu 06 Oct 2016, 23:05

There was a similar device to the "skyhook" for use on land. A pair of poles which had a line stretched between them, and the rescuee was attached to a line (think it had a fair length of bungee cord in it) fastened to the middle. Plane swooped in, hook deployed, and picked up the line, taking the no doubt suitably grateful castaway with it. The first helo used for ASR by the RN (Korean War) could only fish the downed pilot from the water in a large shrimping-net, and he had to stay in it all the way back to the carrier or shore base. The Dragonfly (that was its RN name) replaced the last operational biplane in RN service : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Supermarine_Sea_Otter
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PostSubject: Re: Parachutes   Fri 07 Oct 2016, 11:51

Air - Sea Rescue from British Pathe, 1943. Though with a Walrus rather than an Otter;

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PostSubject: Re: Parachutes   Fri 07 Oct 2016, 12:08

Drones will be the next SAR devices;

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PostSubject: Re: Parachutes   Fri 07 Oct 2016, 12:31

Thanks for that clip about ASR in 1943 .... my dad (RAF groundcrew) worked on Sea Otters with 277 ASR Sqn and before them on Walrus's, (as well as on Lysanders and Defiants which were used for the search bit of ASR). The Walrus was a bit ungainly but in the days before helicopters it was at least capable of fairly short take off and landing on water, so long as not over-loaded. He recalls once a Walrus picked up so many downed airmen on a single mission that she couldn't get airborne ... and so bounced her way back on the surface from half-way to France. He said that when the Walrus finally got back (to Shoreham-by-Sea which as well as having an ASR airfield was crucially also a port with slipways) she was dented, buckled and with bits coming adrift all over, but was so solidly built that she was crucially still happily afloat, and with the engine still running perfectly despite all the sea-spray.

But we digress from parachutes.


Last edited by Meles meles on Mon 10 Oct 2016, 11:18; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : a bit of a senior moment ... I'd mistaken Dad's ASR sqn no.)
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PostSubject: Re: Parachutes   Fri 07 Oct 2016, 13:34

Parachutes and ASR are not completely exclusive concepts. From the 40s to the 60s both the USAF and RAF used airborne lifeboats as part of their standard "Dumbo" paraphernalia. For many years the Saunders-Roe lifeboat was an RAF standard, pictured below under an Avro Shackleton.



The lifeboat was extremely ingeniously contrived. After being dropped from the aircraft and on its descent (even with parachute at a speed of twenty feet a second) pressurised bottles of Carbon Dioxide released their contents into bladders at bow and stern which would serve as a self-righting mechanism when it landed. When it hit the water a load of things happened at once. First the parachutes were jettisoned and a drogue deployed to slow the forward motion of the craft. Rockets stationed on port and starboard fired cables out in each direction (and woe betide if you happened coincidentally to be bobbing merrily in their vicinity and line of trajectory when they did so). A Vincent Motorcycles HRD T5 15-horsepower (11 kW) engine was triggered to descend into its propulsion position, and in some older versions a spring released mast, fully rigged, popped into the vertical.

The one pictured above (SR Mark III) could hold 10 people and its engine was fueled to cover 1,250 miles in relatively calm waters. Its American equivalent, the EDO Mark 3 (pictured below) had similar capacity, features and capability, though as you can see it also handily came with wheels, just in case.

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PostSubject: Re: Parachutes   Fri 07 Oct 2016, 13:45

R & D of the Martin Baker ejection seat to solve the problem of high speed bail-outs;

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PostSubject: Re: Parachutes   Fri 07 Oct 2016, 13:48

And zero altitude bail out from 1955;

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PostSubject: Re: Parachutes   Fri 07 Oct 2016, 14:10

And when a bail out happens just as you least expect it;

The incredibly fortunate Lt Keith Gallagher, who survived being half-way propelled through his plexiglass canopy by a malfunctioning ejector seat in 1991 and was then flown with deployed parachute (which thankfully tangled in the aircraft tail fin), without both helmet and oxygen mask (torn sheer from his head by the force of the sub-zero temperature wind), for about ten miles until a very astute pilot Lt Baden got them both safely back to the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln.



Baden remarked; I realized he still was alive when he said, “Am I on the flight deck?”.



Gallagher's cousin's website which tells the whole saga.
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PostSubject: Re: Parachutes   Fri 07 Oct 2016, 14:12

Successful conclusion to a 2014 parachute test of the new Orion spacecraft;

Orion Parachutes



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PostSubject: Re: Parachutes   Fri 07 Oct 2016, 14:29

@nordmann wrote:
And when a bail out happens just as you least expect it;

The incredibly fortunate Lt Keith Gallagher, who survived being half-way propelled through his plexiglass canopy by a malfunctioning ejector seat in 1991 and was then flown with deployed parachute (which thankfully tangled in the aircraft tail fin), without both helmet and oxygen mask (torn sheer from his head by the force of the sub-zero temperature wind), for about ten miles until a very astute pilot Lt Baden got them both safely back to the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln.

Gallagher's cousin's website which tells the whole saga.

that was incredible.

Mishap when the arrestor wire snaps; the pilot ejects, but some of the deck crew are injured.

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PostSubject: Re: Parachutes   Fri 07 Oct 2016, 15:49

Drogue parachute used to help bring an aeroplane to a stop:


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