Inventor of the first knapsack parachute, which saved countless pilots' lives.
He witnessed a talented pilot fall to his death, which got him to thinking about ways to prevent such horrors in the future.
His first parachute was in use during World War I and further refinements came just in time for World War II.
His father taught math and physics, and his mother was a talented artist.
His work was anticipated by Leonardo da Vinci who had schematics of early parachutes, but unlike Kotelnikov's, they did not fold up into a backpack.