It happened on February 4, 1912. Incredibly, it was all recorded on video. The man is Franz Reichelt. He was a tailor of Austrian origin. He had invented a parachute and wanted to test it. So he climbed to the top of the Eiffel Tower. This was the tailor who wanted to fly in Paris and died trying.
Reichelt was 33 years old. His jump ranks very high among the most absurd deaths in the history of the 20th century. Earlier he had done some tests with a dummy. At the time, the dummy crashed to the ground without gliding a millimeter. He justified it by saying that the dummy had not been able to open its arms during the fall.
He presented his suit to the French Aviation Club, which promptly rejected his invention. It weighed more than 70 kilograms. He tested it at a height of 8 meters. He broke his leg.
His friends thought he was going to perform a new test with the mannequin, but when he arrived at the Parisian tower he changed his mind and revealed his plans to the journalists waiting for him at the base of the monument.
He decided to pretend that he would do more tests with a mannequin on the Eiffel Tower. The truth was that he had other plans. He was filmed perched on the edge of the first of three platforms on the metal structure of the Eiffel Tower. Then he jumped. Another camera on the ground filmed the fall and how his lifeless body was then carried away. He left a gap in the frozen ground of about 20 centimeters.
The British Pathé company was in the business of filming newsreels which were then shown in early theaters prior to feature films. The company was dominant in the British film experience. A crew from the company had contacted Reichelt. They thought they were going to film one of their tests with a dummy.
However, they got the same surprise as the Parisian policemen and journalists. Thus, the British company’s cameras captured Reichelt’s hesitation at the top. And the hard fall and death of the tailor who wanted to fly in Paris. At least he tried.