Parks College Parachute Research Group

Parachute Design/Technical References and Sources

AIAA Aerodynamic Decelerator Systems Technical Committee references

Heinrich Parachute Systems Technology Short Course

Every other year (or so) this parachute design course is offered by the AIAA Aerodynamic Decelerator Systems Technical Committee to professional engineers. It is mostly about round parachutes but there is information about ram-air parachutes as well.

See the course information page at the AIAA ADS Technical Committee web site for more informaton.

Ram-Air Parachute Design by Dr. J. Stephen Lingard

1996, 63 pages, available as PDF only

Published by the ADS Technical Committee, this document is a reprint of the material presented by Dr. Steve Lingard, Chief Systems Engineer at Martin-Baker Aircraft Co. Ltd., at the AIAA Aerodynamic Decelerator Systems Technology Seminar in May, 1995. Dr. Lingard, an acknowledged authority on ram-air parachute design, offers a broad overview of parafoil technology. This reference document offers detailed coverage of flight performance, longitudinal dynamic motion, lateral dynamics, inflation management and loads prediction, and includes a detailed design example.

This document can be found on the Document Archive page at the AIAA ADS Technical Committee web site.

Military references

Recovery Systems Design Guide


This handbook is a comprehensive guide to the practicing engineer in the field of recovery system design, construction and testing. This handbook was prepared by (now Airborn Systems) Irvin Industries Inc, California Division under Air Force Contract Number F33615-75-C-3081. The principal authors were Mr. E.G.Ewing, Mr. H.W.Bixby and Mr. T.W.Knacke.

This document can be found on the Airborn Systems web site: Recovery Systems Design Guide.

Para Publishing references

The following references are available at Para Publishing (Dan Poynter), which also sells older "hard-to-find" research reports.
Web site: | Email: |
Phone: (805) 968-7277 | Phone: (800) PARAPUB (order Line in North America) | Fax: (805) 968-1379
Postal address: Para Publishing | PO Box 8206-240 | Santa Barbara, CA 93118-8206 | USA
Street Address: Para Publishing | 530 Ellwood Ridge | Santa Barbara, CA 93117-1047 | USA

Update: In November 2015 Dan Poynter passed away and Para Publishing went out of business shortly after. The publications listed below can be obtained from Jan Meyer/Aerosoftware until stock is depleted.

The Parachute Manual, Volume I, by Dan Poynter.

Covers all parachutes through 1984 plus historical information, "round" canopies and US military parachutes. Volume I, third edition, completely revised, soft cover, 8.5 x 11 Kivar cover, 592 pages, 2,200 photos and drawings, more than 17,000 in print. ISBN 978-0-915516-35-3. $49.95

The Parachute Manual, Volume II, by Dan Poynter.

Covers all parachute since 1985 plus more on "square" ram-air canopies, sport piggyback harness/container systems, new materials and construction techniques. Volume II, fourth edition, completely revised, soft cover, 8.5 x 11 Kivar cover, 416 pages, 821 photos and drawings, more than 7,000 in print. ISBN 978-0-915516-80-3. $49.95

The Parachute Recovery Systems Design Manual by T.W. Knacke

Provides the tools to evaluate, select, design, test, manufacture, and operate parachute recovery systems. These systems range from simple, one-parachute assemblies to multiple-parachute systems, and include equipment for impact attenuation, flotation, location, retrieval, and disposition. All system aspects are discussed, including the selection of the most suitable recovery system concept, a computerized approach to parachute performance, force and stress analysis, geometric gore design, component layout, material selection, system design, manufacturing, and in-service maintenance. This is the last word in technical design manuals for recovery systems. Theo Knacke is the parachute engineer's engineer. He is the ultimate authority on escape systems, landing deceleration canopies, aerial delivery clusters, personnel parachutes and spacecraft recovery systems. The manual was written for the US Navy and is published by Para Publishing under contract. Knacke manual. Softcover 8.5 x 11 Kivar cover, 512 pages, 280 illustration, 78 tables. ISBN 978-0-915516-85-8. $49.95

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