Motorcycle Parachute Jump Goes All Wrong, the Rider Survives

Even though this short video may seem a bit disturbing for certain viewers, it shows, in fact, how stunt riding began in the early 20th century. This is Fred Osborne's failed attempt at the first motorcycle parachute jump, in 1926.
Fred Osborne diving from a cliff near LA 4 photos
Photo: Youtube capture
Fred Osborne in the first motorcycle parachute jumpFred Osborne in mid-airWreckage
I guess most of you will agree with me in saying that daredevils in the early days of motorcycling were more hardcore than almost anything we can see today. And that is because the protective gear back in the day was almost inexistent, and it barely offered any shielding against injuries.

One cannot compare the funny-looking leather caps to the high-tech carbon/kevlar/aramid helmets of modern days. Likewise, while leather is still used to make riding gear and has excellent resistance to abrasion, modern textile materials, also lined with high-strength fibers provide superior protection.

Moreover, specialized new polymers like D3O are used for manufacturing shields for various body areas, which are considered more prone to injuries.

Telephone wires break the fall

Reportedly, Osborne drove his motorcycle off the Huntington Cliff near Los Angeles, reaching a speed of 60 mph (96 km/h). He had a parachute strapped to him and he attempted to open it as the bike started to fall. Unfortunately, the speed was not enough, and the fall not long enough for the parachute to fully deploy.

You can see that it was out of the backpack but did not trap enough air to open fully and provide air braking force. Osborne fell to the ground, but he miraculously survived. Telephone wires at the foot of the cliff broke his fall.

He was injured very badly, and his motorcycle transformed into a pile of deformed metal which also caught on fire. He was ransported to a local hospital, where doctors assessed his condition.

Wonder whether a ramp would have provided him with more lift and flying distance allowing the parachute to open...

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