Stefan Banic

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A monument erected to Štefan Banič in .
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A monument erected to Štefan Banič in Slovakia.

Štefan Banič (1870-1941) is the inventor of the military parachute and of the first actually used parachute.

Born on 23 November 1870 in Nestich (Neštich), now part of Smolenice, Slovakia. Štefan constructed a prototype of a parachute in 1913 and tested it in Washington D.C. in front of the U.S. Patent Office and military representatives by jumping from a 41-floor building and subsequently from an airplane in 1914. Banič kindly donated U.S. Patent (No. 1,108,484) to the U.S. Army. Banič received little fame or fortune for his invention.

Although the idea of parachutes was known long ago, and Banič's invention is a radically different type of a parachute, than the type known today (it was a kind of umbrella attached to the body), it was the first parachute known to be actively used—it was used by the US Air Force during World War I and saved the life of thousands of aviators.

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