Theory of Flight 01

OPENING QUESTION:  Picture a 100 kg (about 220 lbs) person jumping out of an aircraft and then deploying a parachute.

Sketch the forces acting on that person AFTER it is fully deployed.





Now that we've done a relatively easy diagram take a look at THIS jumper

1) Diagram the forces acting just a moment AFTER the jumper has cleared the plane

2) Now diagram the forces acting on the jumper AFTER the upward air friction forces (drag) equal the downward forces of gravity on the jumnper (we call that "terminal velocity")

3) Now diagram the forces acting on the jumper when he spins to the right (how does he do that by the way?)

4) Now diagram the forces acting on the jumper when he accelerates downward (what happened to terminal velocity?)


Now let's work on developing a parachute that we can test in class.

  • We will drop all of our parachutes from the skybridge
  • Make sure your parachute is fully deployed when you drop it
  • We will make several calculations:
    • We know the object will fall at 9.8 m/s/s without the parachute
    • We can calculate the actual acceleration of the item with the parachute using the basic physics equation d = 1/2at2
    • From that information we can find the drag/deceleration caused by the parachute

We have two goals:

To develop a parachute that will leave the skybridge and hit the ground at a relatively gentle speed (we'll talk about that).

To hit a target (avoid straying side to side too much)


Work with your group to sketch a parachute to accomplish these tasks (you can use paper, trash bag plastic or any other material you bring from home)

  • Anticipate problems that might arouse after doing your sketch
  • Make changes to your sketch
  • Build your parachute
  • Test
  • Debug
  • Repeat