John Chambers


Powered parachutes (PPC) represent a very unique class of aircraft which have thus far seen limited use beyond recreational flight. Their slow flight and large payload characteristics make them a practical platform for applications such as aerial spraying and surveillance. The portability of the units when not airborne, fast transition to flight readiness, inherent stability, and simplicity of control enhance their appeal for use as Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV). The aircraft fly using only three control inputs consisting of two steering lines and a throttle for control of climb and descent. One of the more interesting characteristics that distinguish PPC from conventional aircraft is the pendulum stability which is a consequence of suspending the majority of the aircraft weight so far from the wing surface and which introduces an appreciable amount of lag into the system. Another interesting phenomenon is their speed stability which causes the aircraft to fly at a relatively constant speed whether it is climbing, descending, or flying straight-and-level. The current study seeks to examine the effects of throttle on the longitudinal dynamics of PPC, using a small-scale aircraft. A dynamic model has been derived using analytical methods and computer-simulated in MATLAB and Simulink, developed by The Mathworks. The validity of the model was then verified using data recorded from the small-scale PPC. Effects of parameters such as aircraft weight and thrust were examined and related to flight characteristics such as airspeed and climb rate. Finally, a control system was developed to deal with the aforementioned lag and demonstrate accurate altitude-hold capability for a powered parachute.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Parachutes--Aerodynamics--Computer simulation; Drone aircraft; Paramotoring; Vehicles, remotely piloted

Publication Date


Document Type



Kochersberger, Kevin - Chair

Advisor/Committee Member

Walter, Wayne

Advisor/Committee Member

Ilensel, Edward


Note: imported from RIT’s Digital Media Library running on DSpace to RIT Scholar Works in December 2013. Physical copy available through RIT's The Wallace Library at: TL758 .C42 2007


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