Ocean Gusts Keep a Paraglider Aloft Above Cerro Dragon, a Desert Dune
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For many people, at some point in their lives, they have an overwhelming desire to fly high in the sky just like the birds do. For centuries, human beings have struggled with the idea of flying breathlessly into the open skies. To quench this thirst, hang gliders, para-sails, parachutes, airplanes and helicopters were invented. With advancements in the fields of science and sports, it was only inevitable that powered parachutes would be invented.

A motorized parachute is thought by many to be safer when compared to a normal, fixed-wing aircraft because of its stability, limited response to control inputs and resistance to stalling. The power-off glide ratio ranges anywhere from three to one, to six to one. Glide ratios vary depending on the parachute shape and size and the weight that the parachute is carrying. Although it is possible, it is very difficult to cause a powered parachute to get to a dangerous altitude, stall or have the chute collapse by means of pilot control error. Many pilots consider a chute collapse to be virtually impossibility with square wings, such as ones that powered parachutes have.

A hydro-copter is an amphibious aircraft-propelled catamaran and is considered to be a type of powered parachute equipment. The vehicle has hull similar to a boat, with small wheels and pontoon skids. An aircraft engine with a propeller and rudder pushes the hydro-copter across ice, water, snow and land, where other vehicles or aircraft simply cannot travel in such conditions.

Two Paragliders Against the Sea and Sky
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The first patent for a powered parachute prototype was applied for on October 1, 1964, by a man named Jalbert. He described his new vehicle as a multi-cell wing and called it a parafoil. A parafoil is a non-rigid airfoil with an aerodynamic cell structure that is actually inflated by the wind. Air inflation forces the parafoil into a classic wing cross-section, which was a new parachute design. His ideas were finally registered as U.S. patent 3,285,546 in November of 1966. But, a motorized version similar to this design had already flown in 1964. In March of 1981, Steve Snyder, Adrian Vandenberg and Daniel Thompson created the P-1 powered parachute. Their first flight only lasted around twenty five to thirty seconds, mainly because the paraglider they used suffered from torque problems. It took two more years to fix the problems, and in 1983, the first commercial paragliders were produced.

Powered parachutes are capable of flying low and slow, which makes it an excellent platform for photography and sightseeing. They are sometimes used in agriculture and occasionally by law enforcement agencies. In the U.S., an ultra-light motorized parachute is not permitted to fly at night. Additionally, joining a powered parachute club can offer valuable information; find one at www.all-about-powered-parachutes.com/clubs.htm.

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