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Layman's Parachute

Inflatable parachute with airbags
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Untrained folks can't use a parachute safely for several reasons. Avoid all the problems (erm...) by inflating four spherical bags fastened together in a tetrahedral shape with you in a harness in the middle.

The whole assembly is large enough and light enough to float down parachute fashion without any need to ensure that an open canopy fills, and when you land, your landing is cushioned by the bags.

Pull on the harness, and don't open the gas valve until you're clear of the aircraft! (Could be inflated using sodium azide capsules, like an airbag, rather than a compressed air cylinder.)

Cosh i Pi, May 15 2007

[link]






       Yay, gonflable.
skinflaps, May 15 2007
  

       There is the issue of steering. One still needs to avoid certain things. Large bodies of water may be okay, provided it is not too cold out and there is some hope of rescue.   

       Power lines are probably a non-issue, if the bags pack tightly enough.   

       Things like burning wreckage may pose a problem, but that seems like bad enough luck that the universe is probably out to get you anyway.   

       Pointy trees or fences or rocks or cliff faces may be a more realistic hazard.   

       On the whole, still better than falling without one. And possibly better than falling with a real parachute and no training?
GutPunchLullabies, May 15 2007
  

       Staticline chutes are very nearly idiot proof. Not completely, but mostly.
MaxwellBuchanan, May 15 2007
  

       With enough inflatable spheres, a la the mars lander, one could dispense with the parachute entirely.
nuclear hobo, May 15 2007
  

       [nuclearhobo] I was envisaging doing without the parachute anyway. Didn't I make that clear?   

       [maxwell] Static line chutes aren't much good for bailing out of aircraft, though.
Cosh i Pi, May 15 2007
  

       You could build them into all the (first class ;>)) seats of an airplane. Right before the jet crashes, hundreds of passengers eject, floating to safety like dandelion seeds.   

       It's a nice thought, anyway.
GutPunchLullabies, May 15 2007
  

       How about building the entire aircraft using explosive bolt technology instead of rivets? And "Right before the jet crashes" the airplane gets smithereened and the passenger's spheres inflate?
normzone, Aug 26 2008
  

       // and don't open the gas valve until you're clear of the aircraft! //   

       I heard testimony that in an accident where a passenger plane ditched on water, many passengers inflated their lifebelts while still inside, seriously impeding themselves and others.
Probably better to have an external trigger for inflation.
Loris, Jun 02 2010
  

       [+] for [normzone]
pocmloc, Jun 02 2010
  

       [normzone] in that case, they would still be travelling forward at jet velocity. I hope "right before" includes enough time for them to decelerate.
BunsenHoneydew, Jun 18 2010
  
      
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