Simulation of paragliding rescue parachute deployment

by Nikolay Yotov and Ivelin Kalushkov


    The rescue parachute is also called "second chance", but it's often the last chance when our paraglider goes out of control. 
    Having rescue parachute is only a part of the whole process of slowing down our motion and avoiding a crash. Other important factors are:
- how is the rescue installed in the harness?
- is it easy to find the handle, pull it out and throw the rescue away?
- what about spinning wild and having high G-forces?
- what to do after the opening of the rescue parachute?

    The centrifugal G-force simulators are a good way to practice, but here we're talking about a simple and still realistic simulation which can be done in all kind of terrains and conditions. In fact it's so easy to prepare, so it can be part of your annual rescue re-packing.

    First, you open the rescue compartment of your harness and replace the knot/carabineer connecting your rescue to your harness with a weak link.

    As a weak link, you can use some of the elastic loops, which you'll need later for the packing of the reserve parachute. The weak link should break at about 7 kg of force and you can use a spring scale to measure it. It's handy if the scale can memorize the highest values.

    Then you install the rescue in the harness, place the handle and go to the nearest flying site. 
    During the flight, you pull and throw the rescue away. When it opens, it starts to fill with air and when the drag increases, the weak link brakes and disconnects the rescue from the harness.

    Before the weak link break, you should have the rescue system risers opening the velcro/zip tunnels in the harness toward the attachment points near your shoulders. You should also feel how how the opening of the rescue parachute, slows you down and pitches the glider forward.

     After the weak link break, your body swings forward and the paraglider returns into a normal flight.

    The 7 kg break force should cause the paraglider to pitch about 10° forward. If you set too high break force, then the glider may pitch more than 90°, which is OK if the weak link breaks then - just make sure your test is high enough for the recovery pendulum swing of your body.

Simulation of paragliding rescue paracute deployment

This video shows a simulation of rescue parachute deployment and some packing improvisations at the end.

    If you're not confident, or if the conditions are not that smooth, then you can do the test with 2 rescue systems - one properly attached and the other attached through the weak link.

    When testing, try to drop your rescue in a clean and dry spot. Beware that even atmospheric moisture may reduce rescue parachute performance if it's not dry before packing.