Foundations of Flight | Ram-Air Parachute Anatomy—Cells

Brought to you by Niklas Daniel and Brianne Thompson of AXIS Flight School at Skydive Arizona in Eloy. Images by Bruce Fournier.

In the photo above, the area that makes up the canopy’s center cell is highlighted in red.

It is important for jumpers to have at least a rough understanding of the different areas and features of their ram-air parachutes. Whether you are trying to describe a specific part that needs maintenance to a rigger or you are discussing your last landing with a canopy coach, a common language and terminology can help avoid confusion. The following provides a look at the internal components of your parachute that are hidden from view.

Concept: Cross-Sectional Area

A cross section provides a two-dimensional view of an object as if it were cut in half, revealing details of its inner workings. This can help shed some light on very specific areas, although they will make up only a small piece of the puzzle. There are generally six vantage points from which to view a cross-sectional area. These are typically at right angles to the three axes:

Equipment: Cells (Longitudinal Axis View)

In the previous article we defined what a ram-air parachute is and how to check if it is working properly. Now we will take a closer look at what the air is being rammed into: the cells.

In simplest terms, a cell is the space that is occupied by air when a parachute is inflated. The word “cell” comes from Latin and means “small room.” In the case of a parachute, the ribs make up the walls, the bottom skin is the floor and the top skin is the ceiling. The nose (leading edge) of the parachute has openings that capture the relative wind, pressurizing the internal structure of the wing as the closed trailing edge traps it. We’ll cover more details about these features in the next issue.

A parachute can have any number of cells, but most common sport parachute designs have seven or nine. Most sport parachutes utilize a bi-cell design, meaning there are two rooms per cell. Therefore, each cell has three ribs, two which are called loaded ribs (because they have suspension lines attached to them) and one in the middle of the cell that is not loaded. The purpose of non-loaded ribs is to provide additional connection points between the top and bottom skin. This helps shape the parachute into a more efficient wing.

Information about AXIS’ coaching and instructional services is available at axisflightschool.com. The authors intend this article to be an educational guideline. It is not a substitute for professional instruction.

More educational skydiving content, as well as this free article, is available by downloading the AXIS Skydiving app on your smart device.

AXIS Skydiving App 

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AXIS YouTube Channel

Foundations of Flight | Ram-Air Parachute and Canopy Check

Brought to you by Niklas Daniel and Brianne Thompson of AXIS Flight School at Skydive Arizona in Eloy. Images by Bruce Fournier.

Welcome Back!

After taking a two-year break since the last Foundations of Flight installment, AXIS is excited to announce that it is back with a new focus and look. Past articles (available at axisflightschool.com and parachutist.com) covered a wide range of skills and disciplines, but the new series is focused on specific canopy-piloting concepts. Using illustrations from the AXIS Skydiving app, this column will discuss one aspect—such as construction, a physics concept, a procedure or a flying technique—of a specific piece of equipment. Think of this column as a supplement to professional canopy coaching and a conversation starter rather than a substitute for training.

Introduction

There is much more to a parachute than just a nylon wing and some strings. Each component—which includes the canopy pilot—contributes to the performance of the parachute. A skydiving parachute is first and foremost a lifesaving device that is intended to be deployed at freefall speeds. Therefore, their design and construction are in many ways limited by their primary function. The canopy ride is not a necessary evil that lets you jump again, but instead completes the skydiving experience with a skill set all jumpers share. Developing skill under a wing that is appropriate for your level of experience and currency is much more rewarding than rapidly downsizing or relying on gimmicks. If you are looking for higher performance, approach the progression as growing out of a wing rather than into one.

Equipment: Ram-Air Parachute

A ram-air parachute is a nonrigid-textile wing with an aerodynamic cell structure. Inflated by the relative wind, a parachute requires constant pressurization to produce an airfoil shape. This is accomplished by using the airflow created as a parachute moves through the air, which gives it the name “ram-air.” Most commonly made out of a ripstop nylon, ram-air parachutes are flexible wings which are capable of much more complex behaviors than a ridged fixed wing found on an airplane. Ram-air parachutes have an arc-anhedral design (curved), which places the wing tips below the level of the center of the wing. The arched wing shape has spanwise (side-to-side) bumps, which are the result of the bulging of each cell as they are inflated with air.

Concept: Canopy Check

To determine whether you have a properly functioning main parachute, ask yourself these three questions after you have thrown the pilot chute:

1| There? Visually confirm that there is parachute fabric over your head.

2| Square? Determine if the shape of the wing is symmetrical.

3| Flare? Ensure you can steer and land the parachute using a controllability check. This entails making left and right turns, as well as a full flare (a simulated landing).

If the answer to any of the above questions is “no,” and you are unable to remedy the situation, proceed with emergency procedures at or above your decision altitude.

Information about AXIS’ coaching and instructional services is available at axisflightschool.comThe authors intend this article to be an educational guideline. It is not a substitute for professional instruction.


More educational skydiving content, as well as this free article, is available by downloading the AXIS Skydiving app on your smart device.

AXIS Skydiving App 

Google Play

Apple Store 

AXIS YouTube Channel

“Echoes in Time” Parachutist 75th Anniversary Center Fold

ECHOES IN TIME by Niklas Daniel | D-28906 | At Skydive Arizona in Eloy, David Robinson poses for a photo that reflects skydiving then and now.
Readers can see more of Daniel’s work at https://niklasdaniel.photography
Photos by Brianne Thompson.

View the digial version of Parachutist’s 75th Anniversary issue.

Skydive Radio Photo of the Week Show #253!

I would like to thank Dave at Skydive Radio for making my image below their pic of the week! Skydive Radio is the world’s leading internet radio show dedicated to the sport of skydiving.  Weekly episodes include commentary, feature interviews with industry insiders, listener-contributed photos, and e-mails from an audience that spans the globe.

To watch the video of the intensional cutaways, click here.

SKYHOOK Video

Check out our latest YouTube video where we deep dive the differences between a regular RSL (reserve static line) and a Skyhook equipped RSL. Brianne interviews UPT rep/rigger Greg Rau in the AXIS Flight School studio, as well as enjoying a weekend of intensional cutaways.

Greg Rau: “In an emergency there is a lot of other things involved, and the lower you take it, you’re just buttering up your disaster cake.”

Niklas Daniel Photography

 

AXIS Decennial at Skydive AZ!

November 2020 marks AXIS Flight School‘s 10 year anniversary at Skydive Arizona!

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In celebration of our ‘tin anniversary‘, we reflect on some of our favorite highlights and exploits over the past decade and give thanks to our Students, Sponsors, Team Mates, and Skydive Arizona. Without you, we would not be living the dream.

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AXIS Flight School® Sponsors

We also want to give a special shout out to the various skydiving magazines who have spent many hours editing and publishing our work with the community.

Here is to the next 10 years of Awesomeness!

November 2010AXIS Flight School® sets up shop at Skydive Arizona.

April 2011 – AXIS published its first Foundations of Flight article in Parachutist Magazine.

July 2011 – Nik performs his first canopy burn for the music video 4 years by Kid Savant.

September 2011 – AXIS organizes at MOAB.

October 2011 – Nik makes an appearance in the ESPN Body issue with his team mates on Arizona Arsenal.

March 2012 – Nik wins the 10th Annual Freefly Money Meet.

April 2012 – AXIS coaches and organizes at the Skydive Expo in Deland Florida.

May 2012 – AXIS offers canopy flocking courses at Skydive Arizona.

August 2012 – AXIS coaches and organizes in Europe during the summer. Several more trips follow in the future.

June 2013 – AXIS trains the first Operation Enduring Warrior AFF student Todd Love. Many more wounded veterans join the program to receive their USPA A-License and go beyond.

July 2013 – AXIS releases its first version of a free online DrawGenerator for formation skydiving disciplines. More performance tools are added over the years.

September 2013 – AXIS Flight School’s swoop and slide footage airs on VH1’s 40 greatest viral videos.

September 2013 – Nik wins his first US National title in 4-way VFS while on Arizona Arsenal.

December 2013 – Nik is the primary videographer for the Women’s Vertical World Record 63-way over Skydive Arizona.

December 2013 – Nik performs “The Huckleberry”.

February 2014 – AXIS jumps with Cory Remsburg during the Tee it up for the Troops golf outing in Scottsdale, Arizona.

June 2014 – AXIS skydiving video is featured on the TV show Jeopardy.

September 2014 – Nik wins silver at the 21st FAI World Formation Skydiving Championships in 4-way VFS while on Arizona Arsenal.

September 2014 – Nik wins his second US National title in 4-way VFS while on Arizona Arsenal.

September 2014 Arizona X-FORCE competes at its first USPA Nationals at Skydive Chicago. The team went on to compete and medal (2 silver, 3 bronze) at five consecutive USPA Nationals, in addition to medaling at several indoor skydiving competitions (bronze at USIS). AZ X-FORCE participated in two FAI World Cups, earning bronze in 2019. Peak performances for outdoor included: 17.8 average, 24points single highest scoring round. Peak performances for indoor included: 26.1 average, 46points single highest scoring round.

March 2015 Brianne receives the Chesley H. Judy USPA Safety Award.

March 2015 – AXIS Swoop ‘N Slide video footage is featured on GoPro, and is featured on 60minutes.

March 2015 – AXIS releases YouTube video “A Case of the Mondays”.

July 2015 – Nik captures epic video footage with a RED camera for Rockhouse Motion.

September 2015 – Ben Lowe joins AXIS Flight School under the label X-Ratings to offer rating courses.

October 2015 – Arizona X-FORCE takes 3rd at the USPA Nationals.

November 2015 Brianne’s burning parachute jump video goes viral, reaching more than 1M views.

April 2016 PD’s the Dream of Flight campaign.

April 2016 First 3-way XRW night jump over Skydive Arizona.

May 2016 Performance Designs releases the one-year anniversary Valkyrie ad featuring Brianne swooping her canopy through a wall of fire.

August 2016 – Brianne receives the USPA Regional Achievement Award for her involvement in Operation Enduring Warrior.

October 2016 – Arizona X-FORCE takes 3rd at the USPA Nationals.

December 2016 – Skydive Mag publishes Nik’s Body-flight Theory paper in four installments.

February 2017 – Nik’s aerial photography is featured on FOX 10 News.

March 2017 – Nik receives the Chesley H. Judy USPA Safety Award.

April 2017 – AXIS installs a personal weather station as Skydive Arizona and broadcast info online for locals.

April 2017 – AXIS coaches placed 3rd with their player coach team X-Defy at the iFly Virginia Beach Indoor Nationals in 4-way Formation Skydiving.

August 2017 – Arizona X-FORCE takes 4th at the 21st FAI World Cup in Germany.

September 2017 – Arizona X-FORCE takes 2nd at the USPA Nationals.

September 2017 – Brianne sets World Female Performance Record, as well as North American Female Competition and Performance Records in Speed Skydiving.

February 2018 – Brianne and Nik receive their pilots license (ASEL).

March 2018 – AXIS collaborates with the IBA to produce video tutorials.

March 2018 – Nik receives his IBA Trainer Level 4 sign off.

September 2018 – Arizona X-FORCE takes 2nd at the USPA Nationals.

January 2019 – Arizona X-FORCE takes 3rd at the USIS Nationals.

July 2019 – AXIS published its 100th Foundations of Flight in Parachutist Magazine.

August 2019 – AXIS introduces its Merit System.

September 2019 – Arizona X-FORCE takes 2nd at the USPA Nationals.

October 2019 – Brianne is the first American to medal in FS and VFS at the same World level competition.

October 2019 – Arizona X-FORCE takes 3rd at the 22nd FAI World Cup in Eloy.

December 2019 – AXIS collaborates with Good Goblin Games to produce the AXIS Skydiving App.

September 2020 – AXIS hosts its first Crucible Indoor Tournament.

October 2020 – AXIS builds a home studio to produce high quality educational videos.

November 2020 – AXIS continues to support the OEW Skydiving project.

Skyhook Deployment Video

I would like to thank UPT‘s Riley Marshall, and Lesley Gale at SkydiveMag for showing off some of my photos and videos in a feature article about the Skyhook (MARD). To learn more about the Main-Assisted Reserve Deployment system, and how it differs from a Reserve Static Line (RSL), check out the full article MARDginal Analysis.

Brianne Thompson cuts away with the Skyhook, filmed by Niklas Daniel over Skydive Arizona, Video by AXIS Flight School.

https://niklasdaniel.photography