Care and Feeding Instructions
This paper outlines how to care for your Paramedichute BLS Main Canopy. ALS canopies are similar, just with more folds. We’ll try not to make it a boring read, because we do recommend that you read and understand it in order to keep your main canopy in optimal condition.
Your parachute will likely spend the majority of its time in storage, unless you are privileged enough to fly on a near-daily basis. Proper storing will help keep your chute in optimal condition until use.
We recommend hanging the chute upside-down (canopy toward floor) in room temperature conditions. If this is impractical, we recommend laying it flat on a shelf after it’s been folded into a Wide Bundle –see “packing,” below. It is NOT recommended to keep the parachute packed in a deployment bag or in a rocket airframe for extended periods.
Packing a parachute for flight is a skill. Like any skill, without practice, it can get rusty. We provide this guide for our recommended method of packing our main canopies.
1) The chute’s bridle has distinctive left and right halves. We recommend separating these, and laying the chute down on a appropriate flat surface (table, floor, ground.) The kitchen floor works nicely for the BLS-36 pictured.
2) When separated, the gores at which both halves meet will be evident. Lay the chute down with these two gores atop each other.
3) Then, pair up the shroud lines from top and bottom, gathering them together from the outside toward center…
gathering them together from the outside toward center,
folding each gore as you go,
to make a wide bundle.
4) Fold the wide bundle in half so that the lines are all on one side. Take a moment to be sure that everything is straight and even.
Placing weights atop the bridle and/or canopy can be useful in keeping things in-place. Professional riggers use sand bags. We use hardcover books because they’re handy, but whatever works for you, as long as it doesn’t damage the chute, lines, or folding surface. The copy of NIGHT IN THE LONESOME OCTOBER is not included. Sorry.
5) Draw the lines toward the apex. The bridle should hang just past the edge of the canopy.
6) Fold the gores again, so the lines are contained within the canopy.
7) Attach Nomex to shock cord.
8) Add cellulose (AKA “dog barf”) wadding to airframe.
9) Fold the narrow bundle in a Z pattern.
10) Burrito wrap Nomex around parachute.
11) Attach parachute to shock cord, and test fit in airframe. If the chute slides in easily, you’re ready to go. If it is difficult to insert, consider returning to step 10 and re-folding with fewer Z’s, or even if half, if your parachute compartment permits.
12) Verify attachment is secure. Verify Nomex is well attached. Install in airframe and continue your flight preparations.
13) Raise your parachute by your favorite method to a suitable altitude and deploy.
14) Take photos!
Your Paramedichute, if used in recovery operations, may encounter one or more of the following: dirt, mud, goo, crud, slime, gunk, cow patties, pond water, and/or schmutz. Intermittent cleaning may be desired. Often, the offending schmutz can be wiped or hosed off, and the chute permitted to air dry. Sometimes, however, deeper cleaning may be necessary. We recommend spot-cleaning as required with a damp, non-abrasive cloth, or hand-washing in cold water with a gentle detergent in a suitable location (this will depend on your household. True story: shortly after moving in with my girlfriend, I washed a parachute in the kitchen sink, as I used to in my old bachelor pad. I shan’t repeat her reaction here). We do recommend the chute be air dried completely before storage. Throwing in the washing machine and clothes dryer is NOT recommended.
By nature, a parachute is meant to recover a weight from a height. Therefore, due diligence is expected on the user’s part to ensure the safety of themselves, bystanders, and surrounding property. Double-check all connections, and be sure that the attachment methods are appropriate for the weight range you are attempting to recover. Also, verify your payload weight is within the chute’s recommended range. If using in dual-deploy mode, ensure that your opening altitude is sufficiently high to permit the payload to slow down to 15-20 feet/second by touchdown. Using a simulation program such as Rocksim or Open Rocket is highly recommended to reasonably predict landing speed in dual-deployment scenarios.
Also remember that Nylon has a low melting point, so care must be taken to protect the parachute from hot ejection gases and particles. We use both Nomex blankets and “dog barf” wadding to protect ours, and this is what we recommend.
Follow all appropriate federal, state, county, and local laws. Adhere to safety codes.
Have a great flight… and send us photos (of course, we’d love to see your project under chute, but by all means, send along the liftoff shots, too—we’re rocket geeks; we love that sort of thing).
For additional support, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.