Banič and paratroopers

IVAN Schwarz, who was the first to parachute behind enemy lines in the Battle of Dukla during World War II, and Jozef Tuček, who has 1,115 jumps to his credit, were among the tens of guests in red berets from around the Slovak and Czech Republics to attend the unveiling of a monument to Štefan Banič (1870-1941), the inventor of the parachute. The ceremony took place on June 9 in the inventor's birthplace, Smolenice, near Trnava.

Inventor of parachute honoured.
photo: Pavol Vitko

IVAN Schwarz, who was the first to parachute behind enemy lines in the Battle of Dukla during World War II, and Jozef Tuček, who has 1,115 jumps to his credit, were among the tens of guests in red berets from around the Slovak and Czech Republics to attend the unveiling of a monument to Štefan Banič (1870-1941), the inventor of the parachute. The ceremony took place on June 9 in the inventor's birthplace, Smolenice, near Trnava.

The Club of Military Paratroopers and the town of Smolenice conceived of the monument, which stands in front of the municipal office, two years ago, but plans lagged until they took charge of collecting the necessary funds themselves. From that point on, every jump any of the members made was used to raise money. The clubs of Czech paratroopers also contributed.

Ex-prime minister Ján Čarnogurský, who represented the western-Slovak Club of Military Paratroopers at the event, unveiled the monument with the town's mayor, Pavlína Hornáčková.

"Slovak paratroopers, military as well as civil, have long been among the world's best. That's why it is more than appropriate that a personality who advanced the parachute's development with a brave step forward have a dignified memento in his birthplace," Čarnogurský said.

At the age of 37, Banič left Slovakia for work in the USA. He started in Pennsylvania, where he found his first job in a steel plant. To improve his technical skills, he attended evening courses and spent his free time designing various innovations.

It was a tragic plane accident Banič witnessed in 1912 that gave him the idea for his version of the parachute. Two years later, his patent was approved. He later returned to his homeland, and is credited with discovering Driny, the only cave in the Malé Karpaty (Small Carpathians) open to the public.

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