If the motor fails in a single engine aircraft, by day one may glide to a field. At night: death. Hence, Jacques purchased a $10 parachute for night flying but, he wondered, “would I really jump?”
In 1950 there were no parachuting schools. He arranged a short how-to lesson with a paratrooper. “Count slowly to 3 before pulling ripcord or else the chute may hang up on tail of airplane.”
Jacques made his first jump in street clothes, a freefall with a difficult exit from a small Piper Cub. The opening shock was tremendous, often causing injuries, as was being briefly knocked out in a (helmet-free) hurtful, haphazard landing. But, after his understandable fear (“I was scared to death“), the silent descent was almost a religious experience.
“I must do this again.”
It was clear that the whole affair could be improved, and this is how he later – in solving these problems with his and others’ inventions – changed parachuting from a hazard to a sport. He is known as “the father of sport parachuting” (the title earns an “ugh” in his opinion.)
The sport became known as skydiving.