ON A bright day in 1912, an Austrian tailor named Franz Reichelt jumped off the Eiffel Tower in Paris, France. This was no suicide attempt. Reichelt was wearing a special overcoat of his own design that was supposed to let him glide gently to the ground. Sadly, it didn't work.
Wingsuits let skydiver glide, kind of, on the way down. Experienced pilots can pull off some pretty amazing maneuvers:
Even with a wingsuit, though, you're still going so fast that you need a parachute to land safely.
But people have always wondered: what if you didn't? What if you could actually glide (or slide) to a landing? Here I look into some of the most promising ideas.
(It's not in the online version of the article, but here is the video of Reichelt's fall.)