5. Fatal Failure
A guard stopped Franz Reichelt, but the inventive tailor convinced him to let him proceed. Friends and journalists also tried to talk him out of it, but to no avail, as Reichelt was impervious to good advice. Climbing the stairs, he paused to give the crowd a cheery “A bientot!“, before continuing to the tower’s first deck. There, as the cameras rolled and people shouted for him to stop, he climbed on a stool placed atop a table adjacent to the guardrail, and jumped at 8:22 AM.
The suit was a flop, literally and figuratively. Reichelt fell about 200 feet to his death on the frozen ground below, with an impact that left a 6 inch crater and crushed his spine and skull. Unbeknownst to him, just two days earlier, an American had successfully parachuted 225 feet from the Statue of Liberty, using what would become the standard half-spherical backpack parachute.