Hendon, England

June 1914

George Prensiel

The following extract may give an indication as to George Prensiel's motives in developing an "aerial safety device"

The Times, May 28th 1912 reported that following a speed contest held at London Aerodrome, Hendon, that was declared void due to the numerous accidents caused by the gusty conditions, "Shortly after the contests had finished Mr. Prensiell, in a Bleriot monoplane, went out for a flight. Mr. Turner was also in the air on his biplane. When flying on the further side of the Aerodrome at a height of about 100ft. Mr. Prensiell's machine caught the back-wash of that of Mr. Turner and fell to the ground. Mr. Prensiell was pinned underneath sustaining a fractured leg. He was removed to hospital.


George Prensiel conducts his  parachute extraction test from the rear of a moving vehicle. Hendon, England, June 1914

Leoga Aerea Nazionale 30th June 1914 "Bulletin no. 6 - Annee 3

via M. Baptiste Bourdes


The Italian aviation publication

 'Leoga Aerea Nazionale"

30th June 1914 "Bulletin no. 6 - Annee 3

  Un nuovo paracadute

In Inghilterra e stato provato un nuovo paracudute per aviatori, che presenta partico lari originali degni de rilievo.

    Quando e dhiuso il paradute occupa uno spazio brevissimo, pur essendoe facisilsimo lo spiegamento. Questo viene effettuato da un tubo d'alluminio ad aria compressa che puo esser fatto funzionare dal pilota, per cui paracadute funziona a qualsiasi altezza, anche piccola, mentre quelli finora inventati avevano bisogno di uno spazio di caduta piu o meno  grand per potersi spiegare a funzionare

L'inventore e Mr George Prenciel.


this needs some work to complete the translation

A new parachute In England and tried state a new one paracudute for air, that it introduces partico lari originates them worthy de relief. When and dhiuso the paradute it occupies the short space, also essendoe facisilsimo the deployment. This comes carried out from a aluminum tube to compressed air that puo is made to work from the pilot, for which parachute it works to whichever height, also small, while those up to now invent to you less had need of a space of fall piu or grand for being able itself to explain to work. Inventor and Mr George Prenciel



Life-saving Parachute Apparatus for use in Aerial Navigation

Patent No. 16,943

On 23rd July, 1913 George Prensiel, an Aviator Engineer, working at the London Aerodrome, Hendon, N. W submitted a patent application ". . . for use in saving life in connection with aerial navigation: the chief object being to ensure the safety of the airman in the event of an accident occurring to the machine or air craft during flight."

The device was intended on the activation of the pilot to rapidly release by compressed air a parachute from a cylinder situated within the  fuselage of the aircraft immediately to the rear of the aviator's seat. The  aviator would be pulled from the aircraft to safety upon the expulsion of the parachute.

A year later Prensiel put his compressed air parachute extraction system to the test. Fired from the rear of a moving vehicle the parachute was successfully propelled from its tube.

"Flight" photo

above: The Prensiel parachute, after having been discharged; descending open near to one of the pylons at Hendon


the following was reported in Flight, 21st August 1914

'There have been a lot of German spy stories about lately and also many unconfirmed rumours but whether the following is one of the latter I am not certain. It is said that a certain person informed the police that he had a German lodger whom he not only believed to be a spy but who had an infernal machine in his room. The police thereupon acted promptly, arrested the "spy",  cleared everybody from the house out of danger and bravely put the  infernal machine under water. The "spy" was none other than George Prensiel and his bomb was his very ingenious life saving parachute . . . '


            George Prensiel a German national from Leipzig obtained his flying license (number 198)from the Royal Aeronautical Club on 19th March 1912


 THERE have been many advocates of the parachute as a means of saving life is case of accident to an aircraft, but this aspect of the problem has presented one or two difficult propositions that are not easily got over. Pegoud and others have demonstrated that it is possible to descend from an aeroplane by means of a parachute, but these descents have been made under prearranged conditions, whilst the recent fatal accident to Mine. Cayat de Castella has shown that the danger of the parachute not opening is a serious contingency. It is this latter problem at which George Prensiel‑who obtained his pilot's certificate in January, 1912, and for some time flew a Blériot at Hendon‑bas been working for the last two or three years, and has, he claims, just produced an apparatus which will not only fully open the parachute at the desired moment, but will force the parachute and whatever is attached to it well clear of the aircraft. Briefly, the Prensiel apparatus consists of a steel cylinder containing compressed air at a high pressure, which is suitably mounted on the aircraft. Connected to this cylinder is a vessel in which is packed the parachute, which is attached to a movable seat occupied by the pilot. On opening a valve, the compressed air is admitted to the vessel containing the parachute, which is shot out of the container with some considerable force, opening fully immediately, and carrying the pilot and seat with it leaving the machine to look after itself. A general idea of the apparatus can be obtained from the accompanying illustration, which shows Mr. Prensiel's latest model. The whole apparatus is exceptionally light, weighing only about 30 lbs., and is so constructed that it can easily be fitted to most modern machines. That it works successfully so far as expelling the parachute, opening the same, and lifting the weight of a man is concerned has been satisfactorily demonstrated on several occasions, and further developments will be awaited.with interest




Sincere thanks to: Ken Fergusson for sending me information on the 1914 Flight article on George Prensiel: Alma Willans, wife of  the late Major Terence "Dumbo" Willans for permission to quote from his book "Parachuting and Skydiving" concerning George Prensiel and Colin & Barbara Huston of "Cross and Cockade International " for their help, Baptiste Bourdes for material from his private archive, The Patents Office for help in locating copies of the No. 16,943 and "Flight International" for me to quote and allowing the use of related material published in their early magazines.