NOUVEL OBSERVATEUR (France)
One hundred years before Felix Baumgartner, there was … Franz Reichelt.
According to French magazine Nouvel Observateur, this tailor from Vienna had moved to France as a young man and become a French citizen -- and an inventor. Reichelt created a prototype parachute that he believed could save the lives of aviators.
Although his tests mostly failed, Reichelt believed that this was because they were conducted from too low a base. He finally received permission to carry out a test on a dummy at the Eiffel Tower on February 4, 1912. To the surprise and dismay of his friends, instead of using a dummy, he insisted on jumping himself in his parachute suit, from only the first level of the tower, 200 feet above the ground.
A crowd was present and several cameramen filmed Reichelt’s attempt to float down. Unfortunately, a parachute needs more than 200 feet to deploy, and Reichelt was killed upon impact.