Thursday, 16 May 2013

History of Paragliding

   In 1952 Domina Jalbert advanced governable gliding parachutes with multi-cells and controls for lateral glide.
   In 1954, Walter Neumark predicted (in an article in Flight magazine) a time when a glider pilot would be “able to launch himself by running over the edge of a cliff or down a slope... whether on a rock-climbing holiday in Skye or ski-ing in the Alps”.
   In 1961, the French engineer Pierre Lemoigne produced improved parachute designs which led to the Para-Commander. The ‘PC’, had cut-outs at the rear and sides that enabled it to be towed into the air and steered – leading to parasailing/parascending.
   Sometimes credited with the greatest development in parachutes since Leonardo da Vinci, the American Domina Jalbert invented the Parafoil which had sectioned cells in an aerofoil shape; an open leading edge and a closed trailing edge, inflated by passage through the air – the ram-air design. He filed US Patent 3131894 on January 10, 1963.
   Meanwhile, David Barish was developing the Sail Wing (single-surface wing) for recovery of NASA space capsules – “slope soaring was a way of testing out... the Sail Wing”. After tests on Hunter Mountain, New York in September 1965, he went on to promote ‘slope soaring’ as a summer activity for ski resorts (apparently without great success). NASA originated the term ‘paraglider’ in the early 1960s, and ‘paragliding’ was first used in the early 1970s to describe foot-launching of gliding parachutes.