Parachute Review

David & Susie,

I promised a report on the new parachutes, so here goes.

The chute inflates nicely in light breezes, about 3 mph, but only stays inflated if you generate wind by moving backwards. Once the wind increases, it easily stays inflated. With enough wind, the chute will roll counter-clockwise as it bounces and rises into the air, the longer the line the higher it will rise. The counter-clockwise roll does not prohibit movement to the right as it sort of seeks the center of the wind. At the outer edge of the wind window, the chute tends to collapse slightly but can be "guided" by moving the tow point farther out, i.e., the handler (me!) moved towards the edge to bring the chute back to center. But even if I stayed in the same spot, the chute slowly gravitated back into the window fairly easily.

With a good breeze (10-15), the chute can be a handful! Obviously, the longer the tow line, the stronger the pull. With about 40' of tow line, I was physically moved. One of our new flyers told me that he had never held onto something that pulled that hard, but he's never flown a big kite. Like any large wind powered object, you have to pay attention to it! As an experiment, I released the line when the wind was at it's strongest (about 15) to simulate a broken line or stake pulling out. The chute collapsed and fell to the ground only a few feet downwind from where it had been held. If the winds were stronger, it may have drifted farther just due to the volume of material but I don't think it would go very far. It would still be smart to keep the area around the chute clear of people to avoid getting caught in the spinning bridle. I attached a heavy, ball bearing swivel to the bridle and used a 200# snap swivel to connect the towing line (about 300# braided dacron). I think the swivel would be a good addition because it prevented the chute bridle and tow line from twisting when the chute was spinning.

Marty's Parachute
Photo by Jim Martin

The workmanship is very good to excellent. On the outside (there is a definite outside or 'right' side), the seams are straight and neat. On the inside, I did notice some extra threads at some seam ends but they were hard to see without looking, otherwise very neat job. The bridle points are reinforced and secure and the bridle is neat and untangled. Size wise, when laid out flat, the diameter may be 10', but inflated it is about 6' or so, but still a big visual impact. After only a couple "flights", I have not noticed any wearing on the seams or bridle points. As I fly it more, I'll keep you posted. I fly it mostly on a grassy field so it shouldn't receive the wear it might on a sandy beach. But I'll try that in Florida at Christmas.

The next things I want to do are hang it off a lifter a few feet above the ground to see how it handles and try staking it down with about 20' of line. We did find if you hold the tow point (10-20' plus the bridle) about 5-6' above ground, it stays re-inflated better after a collapse. A fun thing to do is put a flying strap a few feet from the tow point and let people feel the wind on these things. Might even try turning it inside out to check for reverse spinning.

I'm very pleased with the chute so far. Last weekend, I could hear both parents and kids from the playground about 75 yds from our flying field commenting on it. The bright colors and size get a lot of attention from onlookers and other flyers alike. It was even mentioned that now we need another one to rotate in the other direction and have them bounce off each other. I asked them to show me the money. ;)

Glad to see that your Malaysian trip went well - it looks like a beautiful place to visit.

Marty Groet
(Wings Across Carolina Kiting & Okra Society
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