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last updated: Monday, January 7, 2008

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Current canopy designs are a refinement of Domina Jalbert's original Parafoil concept - individual cell sections joined together, sealed at the trailing edge with vents in the interior cell walls to even out internal pressure, to create a ram-air airfoil.

A high strength, non-porous, rip-stop nylon material is used in the construction of the wing. Most canopies are guaranteed for 3 years or 300 hours (ultraviolet light is the killer!). The suspension lines attached to the under surface of the canopy have a Kevlar braided core with protective nylon sheathing. The lines differ in length to promote a symetrically loaded wing attitude and are terminated in sequence at one of two sets of risers, the connection points to the harness.

Glider control is via two brake toggles, one for each half of the wing. Selective brake input pulls the respective wing's trailing edge down, creating more drag on that side and subsequently turning the glider in that direction. The glider can also be turned using weight shift alone, by leaning to one side and loading one half of the wing more than the other, the glider will perform a slow, low banked turn.

In flight, the natural forward trim speed of most canopies is around 35 kph. The wing has a positive angle of attack and acquires around one third of all its lift via deflection. The airfoil shape provides the remaining lift to commonly give paragliders best glide ratios greater than 8.

In Australia, paragliders must be certified to legally fly. The HGFA Safety and Operations Committee sets minimum standards for the design, performance and manufacture of paragliders and recognises various European homologation benchmarks. Primarily the DHV rating (the German hang-gliding federation in association with the Austrian Aero Club) and the AFNOR rating (the French standards institute in conjunction with ACPUL, the European paraglider manufacturers association).


In between flights, bundle your canopy and place it in a shady spot away from any sources of heat (like car exhaust pipes!). Wherever possible, minimize your wings UV exposure as much as possible.

After flying, pack your canopy in its slip-bag and rucksack, and store in a cool, dry place. Pack the glider in a loose style if storing for long periods, and never place anything heavy and/or sharp on you wing.

Avoid using solvents to remove stains, they may have an adverse affect on the material's long term UV resistance, or even worse, they may start to break down the fabric itself. In most cases, a little bit of soapy water should do the trick.

Avoid dragging your glider across abrasive surfaces like concrete, gravel or sand. Be mindful of where you initially set-up, and where you finally pack your glider.

To rid you canopy of any debris trapped within the cells, elevate the trailing edge and, starting from the centre, give the wing a good shake. Whatever doesn�t fallen out will gathered in the leading edge. At the wingtips, remove any debris by hand carefully through the cross vents.

Mould will greatly accelerate the deterioration of your wing. If your canopy is wet, store in a cool, dry place until dry before packing. Never attempt to speed the drying process by direct application of heat (hairdryer, heater etc.)

Perform a thorough canopy check after a launch or landing incident. Attend to any damage that may degrade the integrity of your wing in flight. Repair all holes and rips, from the inside and outside, using appropriate patches and have all repairs inspected by an accredited authority. If in doubt, have them carry out the repairs.

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A stuff sack is ideal for temporarily storing a canopy without having to packing it first. A bundled canopy is easily accomodated, and depending on size, so sometimes is your harness.

"the natural function of the wing is to soar upwards and carry that which is heavy up to the place where dwells the race of Gods... more than any other thing that pertains to the body it partakes of the nature of the divine"


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