Parks College Parachute Research Group
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.
- low speed wind tunnel testing
- structural load testing
- flight test instrumentation design, construction and calibration
- test jumping
- computer simulations and software systems development
- data analysis
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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.