Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 91.djvu/455

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A Parachute Life-Preserver for Aeronauts

��Pivot-

��Sliding. head- Tension spring..

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��The instant the aviator is thrown out of his nor- mal position, the spring is released and the para- chute stick is straightened out automatically

��EVERY ship car- ries its cork- jackets for pas- sengers. Is there no life-preserver which the crew of an aircraft can don in an emergency? The parachute at once suggests itself. Pre- arranged parachute leaps have often been made from airplanes, are different if the airplane is beyond control, owing to the quickness with which disaster overtakes one in the air. There is no time to think. Then there is the difficulty of getting clear of an over- turned machine which itself drops like a stone. The critical point is the automatic unfolding of the parachute in the air through the initial drop kself, which demands that it must be just slightly unfolded below so as to be ready to catch the air.

Kaja P. Togstad, in inventing a para- chute that would remain efficient in an accident, has evidently realized these difficulties and taken a step in the right direction. He would throw a parachute automatically into the correct opening position by mechanical means. As the picture shows, he supplies his parachute with a central stick like an umbrella's.

��It is ready for any emergency and acts automatically — says the inventor

��The stick doubles on itself in the middle, so that the whole contrivance can be carried on the aviator's back. A coiled spring automatically unfolds and straightens the stick the moment the aviator leaves his normal position in the machine. The device

would, however, seem feasi- ble only if the parachute was no larger than an umbrella. Although so small a parachute would somewhat retard the fall, there would be scant comfort for the bereaved family in knowing that the avia- tor was picked up after a fall of nine thousand feet with only a broken neck and not with every bone shattered as usual. The place of this umbrella-like con- trivance might conceiv- ably be taken by a really efficient para- chute (of twenty-two feet minimum diame- ter)' made of cloth and ropes so thin, yet strong, that it might be folded into a small enough bundle at the end of the stick which by the same mechanism, might be thrown instantly and automati- cally into the proper position to catch the air and open promptly.

In use, the parachute device is fastened to a corset-like belt which the aviator dons when preparing to make his ascent. The swinging staff section is held down by means of lashings, which allow the wearer to walk about in the machine so long as the parachute is collapsed. After the , aviator takes his place in the seat of the airplane he releases the lashings so that the staff will be free to operate but will be held back against the seat and prevented from action unless the aviator is thrown out or moves suddenly from his seat.

��In most acci- dents, the avia- tor has little time to act. Just here lies the value of this de- vice, when coup- led with an effi- cient parachute

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