Parks College Parachute Research Group

Consulting Services

The Parks College Parachute Research Group (PCPRG) is offering its expertise and facilities to the parachute, aviation, and aerospace industry, and government agencies. The Group can perform a wide range of theoretical and experimental studies, including:

The services of the PCRG are quite affordable and all proceeds go to Parks College's educational programs.

A major parachute research project involving members of the Group is the ongoing Parks College Ram-Air Parachute Deployment Study presented at the Parachute Industry Association (PIA) Symposiums. The Study is a test jumping program aimed at building a detailed and public database on the inflation characteristics of sport parachutes. The design, testing and building of the instrumentation used in the Study was carried out by PRG members and their students, using the College laboratories.

If interested in contracting work with the PRG, please get in touch with Dr. Potvin at or (314) 977-8424.

The PCRG is in a position to submit a formal bid in a matter of a few days. The following pages describe the facilities housed at Parks College and provide a brief introduction of its members. Please do not hesitate to get in touch with us if you have any questions.

The Faculty:

Dr. Jean Potvin

Jean Potvin has B.Sc. and M.Sc. degrees in Physics from Universite Laval, Quebec City, Canada and a physics Ph. D. from the University of Colorado, Boulder CO. He was a Research Associate at the Brookhaven National Laboratory, Upton NY, and a joint postdoctoral fellow at Boston University, Boston MA and Dalhousie University, Halifax, Canada. He has taught Physics, Computer Programming and Meteorology at Parks College of Saint Louis University since 1991. His present research interests include the study of the aero-physics of parachute inflation and flight. He is a member of the National Parachute Technology Council, the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, the American Physical Society and the American Meteorological Society. Dr. Potvin is FAA Senior Parachute Rigger and also a U.S. Parachute Association-rated static line Instructor and has made over 2000 sport and research parachute jumps since 1992.

Parachute Group Consultant:

Mr. Gary Peek

Mr. Peek is a computer and electronics consultant residing in the St. Louis area, and is the founder of Industrologic, Inc., a manufacturer of industrial electronic products, including products specific to parachute testing.

He is a U.S. Parachute Association-rated Static Line, IAD, AFF and Tandem Instructor/Examiner and has performed over 8000 parachute jumps. Mr. Peek also holds FAA Master Parachute Rigger and Commercial Pilot certificates and is the author of numerous skydiving and aviation published articles and skydiving related computer programs.

The Facilities:

Wind Tunnel Laboratory

Parks College faculty and students have access to a state-of-the-art facility which includes two subsonic wind tunnels, one Mach-4 wind tunnel and one water tunnel. Research-quality work can be performed on the largest of the four tunnels, namely the 28x40 inch closed throat, open circuit wind tunnel which is capable of continuous airspeeds up to 150 mph. A six component strain gage balance with computerized data acquisition and analysis using LabVIEW is available. A helium bubble generator is also available for flow visualization studies, as well as a Laser Doppler Velocimetry system.

Structures Laboratory

The Structures Laboratory houses several testing machines and stress analysis equipment. A MTS Systems testing machine allows the user to program a structural test specimen to loads of 50 kips or displacements of five inches. The data acquisition and analysis is automated. An environmental chamber unit allows testing to be done at elevated temperatures. Vibration and acoustics testing capabilities are being added. Moreover, a computerized data acquisition and analysis system based on LabVIEW is being installed.

Flight Simulator

Parks College proudly operates a flight simulator built by the Opinicius Corporation. The simulator features reconfigurable cockpit and a 60-degree field of view visual system. The flight control system includes a 3-axis electric control loading system from Fokker. Control system friction, spring constants and gear ratios are all programmable.

Computer-Aided Design System and Computer Simulations

Parks College houses a computing facility that includes two DEC machines running Unix, as well as a VAXStation 3100p, a SUN/SPARC workstations cluster, and a LAN-networked/Windows 95 based cluster of Compact and Zenith workstations. The latter support several commercial CAD software packages such as ALGOR and CADKEY.

Test Jumping Equipment

Over the years members of the PRG have built electro-mechanical devices, data acquisition systems, and other miscalleneous equipment carried by test jumpers. These include a riser-mounted strain gauge system, a solid state pressure sensor barograph, and recently, a parachute-mounted pressure sensor array. The Group's test jumpers (Peek and Potvin) can use up to four harness/containers and two data acquisition systems to carry out several research projects simultaneously.

Test Jumping Facilities

The PRG's test flights are carried out at commercial drop zones in the St. Louis, MO area. To reduce costs, piston-engined aircraft such as the Cessna 182 are used as much as possible to reach the lowest relevant (and safe) altitude. Weather permitting, the PRG can test jump during all 12 months of the year.

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