Ildebrando Zacchini

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Ildebrando Zacchini
Born 1868
Died July 17, 1948(1948-07-17) (aged 79–80)
Tampa, Florida
Resting place Myrtle Hill Memorial Park, Tampa
Nationality Maltese
Known for human cannonball act
Spouse(s) Madelina Dal Paos (1872 1963)
Children Hugo Zacchini, Edmondo Zacchini

Ildebrando Zacchini (1868 - July 17, 1948, Tampa, Florida) was a Maltese-born painter, inventor, and travelling circus owner. [1]

Tampa, Florida City in Central Florida

Tampa is a major city in, and the county seat of, Hillsborough County, Florida, United States. It is on the west coast of Florida on Tampa Bay, near the Gulf of Mexico, and is the largest city in the Tampa Bay Area. The bay's port is the largest in the state, near downtown's Channel District. Bayshore Boulevard runs along the bay, and is east of the historic Hyde Park neighborhood.

Malta island republic in Europe

Malta, officially known as the Republic of Malta, is a Southern European island country consisting of an archipelago in the Mediterranean Sea. It lies 80 km (50 mi) south of Italy, 284 km (176 mi) east of Tunisia, and 333 km (207 mi) north of Libya. With a population of about 475,000 over an area of 316 km2 (122 sq mi), Malta is the world's tenth smallest and fifth most densely populated country. Its capital is Valletta, which is the smallest national capital in the European Union by area at 0.8 km.2 The official languages are Maltese and English, with Maltese officially recognised as the national language and the only Semitic language in the European Union.

An inventor is a person who creates or discovers a new method, form, device or other useful means that becomes known as an invention. The word inventor comes from the Latin verb invenire, invent-, to find. The system of patents was established to encourage inventors by granting limited-term, limited monopoly on inventions determined to be sufficiently novel, non-obvious, and useful. Although inventing is closely associated with science and engineering, inventors are not necessarily engineers nor scientists.


Inspired by the works of Jules Verne, Zacchini came up with an idea for a human cannonball act. [2] Instead of explosives, Zacchini's human-firing cannon used compressed air, and he first tested it on his son Hugo Zacchini.

Jules Verne French novelist, poet and playwright

Jules Gabriel Verne was a French novelist, poet, and playwright.

Human cannonball

The human cannonball act is a performance in which a person who acts as the "cannonball" is ejected from a specially designed "cannon". The human cannonball lands on a horizontal net or inflated bag placed at the landing point, as predicted by physics. Outdoor performances may aim at a body of water.

Hugo Zacchini Human canonball

Hugo Zacchini, one of the Zacchini Brothers, was the first human cannonball to use a compressed-air cannon. His father Ildebrando Zacchini invented the compressed-air cannon used to propel humans in circus acts. He was known for being a daredevil and a painter.

The idea for the cannonball act was initially proposed to the Italian government as a military maneuver to be used in conjunction with parachutes; when the proposal was rejected Zacchini looked to use the technique as part of an entertainment act. [3]

Parachute device used to slow the motion of an object through an atmosphere

A parachute is a device used to slow the motion of an object through an atmosphere by creating drag. Parachutes are usually made out of light, strong fabric, originally silk, now most commonly nylon. They are typically dome-shaped, but vary, with rectangles, inverted domes, and others found. A variety of loads are attached to parachutes, including people, food, equipment, space capsules, and bombs.

Members of the Zacchini family were later inducted into the Ringling Brothers Circus Hall of Fame. [4]

See also

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  1. "Rene Zacchini left circus to serve in Florida House..." St. Petersburg Times . April 22, 2010. Retrieved April 23, 2010.
  2. "Zacchini Cannon Enters Museum". St. Petersburg Times . March 31, 1976. Retrieved April 23, 2010.
  3. "'Trigger man' behind human cannonball dies". Sarasota Herald-Tribune . January 11, 1993. Retrieved April 23, 2010.
  4. "Ildebrando Zacchini". Find A Grave. Retrieved August 14, 2012.