Canopy Size vs. Platform

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Hi all,

I'm a newer jumper, started last year, and have been wondering about types of canopy progression. I'm taking my own progression pretty conservatively and with the input of coaches/riggers at my DZ, so this question is more out of curiosity than to guide my personal canopy choices right now.

The setup: I know that size and shape both contribute to how aggressive/responsive/potentially dangerous a canopy is, and that often people work towards flying smaller and more tapered wings. Most people seem to downsize first on a more square canopy, then when they hit a certain threshold transition to more elliptical canopies, and might continue downsizing after advancing in platform type. So for example, flying Pilots until you get down to a 124, then switching to Katanas and downsizing in more tapered canopies from there.

My question: What are the pro/cons of transitioning to a more tapered wing earlier on? Say, moving from a Pilot 168 to a Stiletto 170, and downsizing with elliptical canopies from there?

Thanks for any input!


Edited by mcwils
Misspelled word

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First off: the term is "planform."

Planform describes the canopy as seen from directly below.

Rectangular canopies have the same chord (front to back measurement) all across the wing span. These days, BASE and skydiving reserve canopies are still rectangular because they provide the most consistent, on-heading openings.

Tapered canopies have smaller wing tip chords than their centre cells. Semi-elliptical, elliptical, fully-elliptical, clipped rear corners, swept-wing, Schumann, etc. are just some of the different tapered planforms.

A dozen other variables also affect canopy handling: turn speeds, malfunction rates, stall characteristics, landing characteristics.

OTOH most main canopies designed over the last 25 years are tapered. Some student canopies are only tapered a little ... primarily to reduce control pressures. The smallest, fastest, pond-swooping canopies have significantly smaller end cells to permit faster turns and flatter swoops. The disadvantage is the seriously tapered canopies some times "spin up" so badly during opening that the only solution is releasing them and opening your reserve.

May I suggest touring the Performance Designs or Ikarus or Aerodyne websites and read some of the articles that compare their various models of canopies.

John LeBlanc (vice president at Performance Designs) has given several good lectures about canopy design and choice.

Also review some of Brian Germaine's videos on www.youtube.com.

Edited by riggerrob
add a sentence

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