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Department of Physics

COOL PHYSICS

An experiment in parachute physics

Parachute inflation studies often require experimental data to validate computer models of this process. One way to do this is by dropping instrumented test parachutes from aircraft, as shown in the newspaper clip below. Another way is to have a parachutist dropping the test item while flying his own parachute. The movie at the bottom of this page shows one such experiment. The force data that was recorded during this drop is shown in the graph. The parachutist was Dr. Potvin, who was wearing a special belly bag containing the test chute and a 25lbs weight. The bag allowed a safe deployment of the parachute, necessitating the use of only one hand (the other hand was busy flying the OTHER parachute). The filming, as well as the design and construction of the instrumentation package was done by Mr. Gary Peek, co-founder with Dr. Potvin of the Parks College Parachute Research Group. Both test jumpers are shown wearing their test-jumping gear in the last photograph.

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