He is best known for his successful test in July 2000 of Leonardo da Vinci's (1452–1519) parachute design, proving it to be in retrospect the world's first working parachute. A modified pyramidal design was later also successfully tested by his Swiss colleague Olivier Vietti-Teppa.
On 12 March 1999, Nicholas stepped out of an aeroplane at 35,850 feet (10,930 m). He flew for 4 minutes, 55 seconds and covered a distance of 10 miles (16 km), establishing new world records for the longest sky dive and the furthest human flight. During the attempt the exhaust valve of his oxygen mask froze preventing him from breathing properly for about four minutes.
On 17 September 2005 Nicholas was jumping in Texel, the Netherlands. While performing a high speed landing manoeuvre, his automatic activation device fired at approximately 750 feet (230 metres) above the ground and deployed his reserve parachute. He attempted to correct the situation by releasing his main parachute, however, he still hit the ground hard enough that he died at the scene as a result of his injuries.
- "Adrian Nicholas Proves Da Vinci Chute Works". Dropzone. 9 July 2000. Retrieved 22 October 2012.
- "Swiss Man Safely Uses Leonardo da Vinci Parachute". FOX News Network. 29 April 2008. Archived from the original on 21 April 2010. Retrieved 22 October 2012.
- "Adrian Nicholas". The Daily Telegraph. 22 September 2005. Retrieved 22 October 2012.
- "Hard landing after downplane caused by AAD firing". dropzone.com skydiving fatalities. dropzone.com. Retrieved 15 October 2012.
- "Obituaries: Adrian Nicholas". The Daily Telegraph. 22 September 2005. Retrieved 22 October 2012.
- Times Online: Adrian Nicholas (obituary)
- Gale, Lesley (October 1998). "Adrian Nicholas - People in the Sport". British Parachute Association. Archived from the original on 1 March 2009. Retrieved 21 October 2012.
- Dropzone.com: Fatality Incident Discussion