What is the parachute? Nothing more than a thin, lightweight fabric, supported by tapes and suspension lines and attached to one’s body by special strong shoulder and waist straps, called risers, once manufactured out of silk. However, the days when parachutes were made out of silk have long passed. During the Second World War the parachutes introduced were made out from more durable materials, like woven nylon fabric. Today’s parachutes are made from a variety of long-lasting fabrics and materials, all selected to enhance performance and improve consistency over time; needless to say, something extremely important when one’s life is at stake!
According to the online version of Encyclopedia Britanica, the parachute is “a device that slows the vertical descent of a body falling through the atmosphere or the velocity of a body moving horizontally.” This is easier to understand, if one considers that through the use of a parachute a person increases his or her body’s surface area, which results in increased air resistance and thus a body’s motion slows down. Made out of soft and light fabrics, today’s parachute is both a pilot’s life savior device and a parachute fan’s exciting experience.
The word “parachute” is a combination of two French words: para (protect or shield) and chute (the fall). Thus, it literally means fall protection. But protecting oneself when falling from a height due to earth’s gravity, towards land or sea, is actually something that even when the parachute is worn still has to take place. Luckily, due to the industry’s innovations, contemporary parachutes come in a variety of shapes and types, while all are quite maneuverable and can be navigated.
The simpler version of parachute is the round one. Mainly used for their dragging features, in military, emergency units, and cargo applications, round parachutes are large mushroom-shaped canopies that prevent a body or object from falling on to the earth’s surface due to gravity. By extending the area of an object, these life-saving devices lower the velocity of a falling object or human being and thus, are greatly admired. Their contemporary version is much more stable than in the past and permits the person falling to navigate it towards the desired landing area. Other variations of the round parachute are the pull down apex parachute, the Para-Commander-type canopy, or the ribbon and ring parachutes. All offer different navigational experience to the one using them and are preferred in different circumstances and occasions.
Yet, no matter what your excuse to jump off a plane might be, it is absolutely essential to be professionally trained before attempting to use this device. Begin by conducting some research on the training facilities existing in your area and check their trainers’ profiles, hours of operation, plains, parachutes, uniforms worn by skydivers and other materials used prior to take off. Keep in mind that it is always best if you take some precaution before taking a risk.