Google Doodle lifts off for a parachute jump

It's the 216th anniversary of the landmark descent to Paris by a very brave Frenchman. Today's interactive doodle lets you get in on the action.

Google Doodle parachute jump
The Google Doodle for October 22 celebrates the 216th anniversary of the first parachute jump. Google/Screenshot by CNET

Parachute jumps didn't start with the 82nd Airborne or even the airplane era. Tuesday's Google Doodle is here to point us all the way back to the 18th century and have a little fun doing it.

Today's Google Doodle commemorates what the know-it-all search site describes as "the 216th anniversary of the first parachute jump." That could only be the descent from a hot-air balloon at 3,000 or so feet above Paris in 1797 by an Enlightenment Era daredevil named André-Jacques Garnerin. (Wikipedia's parachute page cites a couple of long-gone Frenchmen who might take issue with the claim, but c'est la vie.)

The ride down was apparently not particularly pleasant for Garnerin, who first had to cut himself loose from the hot-air balloon that had carried him aloft, but he landed without injury.

You can relive the moment without risk of airsickness via today's interactive Google Doodle, which lets you use your arrow keys to guide a cartoon Garnerin safely back to Earth.

In a somewhat cosmic coincidence, Felix Baumgartner's supersonic skydive last year also involved a balloon ascent -- albeit way, way higher about 24 miles in the sky -- and came just eight days shy of the 215th anniversary of Garnerin's plunge. Chances are that the plucky Garnerin was packing a little less high-tech gear.

About the author

Jonathan Skillings is managing editor of CNET News, based in the Boston bureau. He's been with CNET since 2000, after a decade in tech journalism at the IDG News Service, PC Week, and an AS/400 magazine. He's also been a soldier and a schoolteacher, and will always be a die-hard fan of jazz, the brassier the better.


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