1952: Leo’s Fatal Attempt

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by Pat Works

Leo's Fatal Attempt

Birdmen and Controlled Freefall -- Dennis, Over 70 years ago --  Leo Valetin was experimenting in the late 40's with winged flight, had several injuries & kept coming back with a new plan. He was getting really close to planning how to land it (and live). His last configuration looked like he had it. So he exited a large door D-18 type aircraft. This attempt was his last.

Leo Valentin published the techniques of controlled free fall in his book Birdman, and then died at Speke the following year.  Leo Valentin: 1919-1957 (date of his last flight, when he suffered structural failure and crashed or 'bounced')

I believe that M. Valentin is more important to us as the acknowledged master of Controlled Free fall in the 1940s Leo's Fatal 1who shared his art with others to learn and fly. His book, “Homme Oiseau” (Bird Man), has many Gems and bon mots. His book stands by itself as a worthy read. Well written. Clearly thought, poetic descriptions capture his 1940's conquest of Controlled free fall (now skydiving). Mr. Valentin shared that Death & change come in 2nd place to the joy and beauty of flight. Nice.  Much more than just a story of the famous French Bird Man. Well written. Well illustrated with fine photos.  Leo shared his art of freefall for all to learn, nothing like our tight-lipped American 1920's Barnstormer and freefall master Spud Manning who shared not anything. Once published, Valentin's methods came to be the syllabus at all French the nation's many National Regional Parachuting Schools (ecoles de Leo's Fatal 2Parachutisme). The official program of study for freefall parachuting at these government supported schools incorporated Valentin's syllabus for Free fall Techniques (skydiving). The exceptional skills of French (and Russian) freefall parachutists dominated parachuting competitions. Highly praised and much admired by Joe Crane C-1, the coursework was studied, learned, and carried back to the United States, and the Americas (and thence world) by in the 1950s French-Americans Raymond Young and Jacques-Andre Istel (D2).  We fly with those feathers today.