What are Parachutes?
Skydiving is now one of the most popular extreme sports in modern times. The thrill of free falling in the sky and landing softly on the ground is an undeniably adrenaline pumping experience. The most important thing about this sport is the parachute. Kids can make homemade parachutes with the right materials.
Having a real one is a totally different story. Parachutes have a long history and development. Thanks to several daredevils it is now much safer to use compared before.
Parachutes have been made of different materials through out its development. There are also different types of parachutes that have been used throughout history. Before you think of going for skydiving lessons you have to know what parachutes are to ensure your safety. If your parachute does not deploy the way it should, it will fatal for you.
The word parachute means against the fall. It is designed to slow the motion of an object. Normally it used by people to slow down their descent to earth or to other celestial bodies. It can also be used to slow down the descent of objects to the atmosphere.
They can slow down not just vertical but also horizontal deceleration. Drogue parachutes are used to slow down fixed wing aircrafts and drag racers.
They are have been made of different materials through the years. The very first one was made of a cloak with wooden struts. The parachute was conical shaped the same with Leonardo da Vinci's sketches. Rigid parasol was used in China for entertainment. Modern designs are made of nylon that has "rip stop" and "Zero porosity" technology. Rip stop gives it a weave pattern which prevents it from tearing and ripping apart when used. The zero porosity technology prevents the air from passing through the fabric.
The first modern design was invented by Louis-Sébastien Lenormand in 1783. At that time it was thought to be used as a means for getting off a hot air balloon. It was then used for military purposes in the 19th century. It was used by artillery spotters in World War 1 that were secured to observation balloons. In World War II they were used for surprise attacks by landing soldiers on the enemy line.
First modern designs where round and usually used by paratroopers when they are deployed by an aircraft. These are usually drag devices which means they are not maneuverable and provide no lift. These were replaced by square ones through the Advance Tactical Parachute System.
Another variation of the round parachutes is the annular and pull apex. It's a round parachute with suspension lines to the campy apex. A fabric can be removed at the apex to open a hole that releases the air and provides annular geometry. A similarity to this is the ribbon and ring parachutes that were designed to deploy at high speeds. They have ring shaped canopies with a hole in the center to release the pressure.
The commonly used design today is the Ram-air parachute. They have parafoils that have the same capabilities as paragliders. They enable the person to control the speed and direction for a soft landing.
Ram-air parachutes are used for skydiving and recreational purposes. They also have reserves for emergency and are packed in such a way that will guarantee proper deployment.