How does a Parachute Work?

How does a Parachute Work?

Image Credit: Flickr User HikingArtist, via CC

A parachute helps to land on the ground safely from a height by slowing down the speed of falling things. It is used as a safety device in case of emergency escape from aircraft , or any flying machine. It is also used in adventure sports to jump from a mountain or an airplane for thrill (sky diving).

But how does a parachute make that possible? Can a big balloon do the same?

If you notice, you will see that parachute is like a half cut balloon. Also, a parachute is very light weight but large. The large area traps lot of air in it during the fall. Now, you know that everything falls down because of gravity. What happens here is that this trapped air creates a push upwards that works against the gravity. This slows down the parachute and whatever is tied to it.

It is similar to a situation where you are putting a lot of force to run fast in the forward direction and somebody comes and starts pulling your hand backwards. You wouldn’t be able to run that fast. Right? Parachute is designed to create a force that lessens the pull of gravity. So the person wearing a parachute falls down slowly and safely to the ground.

Now a little bit of history. Artist Leonardo da Vinci drew first ever sophisticated design of a parachute. He drew a cloth-covered wooden frame in the shape of a pyramid and it had a man hanging underneath. Many years later a Frenchman  Louis-Sébastien Lenormand  implemented modern parachutes. In 1783, he made the first successful jump.

A question for all of you who are taking french classes.

Why is a parachute called so?


The term parachute is coined by putting two french words together “para” which means defense against and “chute” is a fall. So together it makes defense against a fall. 


  1. I already knew everything here and more. I was looking for instructions on packing and professional stuff. I am also 11 years old

  2. this did not help me very much .It is just comparing a balloon to a parachute, the proper facts kids, which are children under 13 wont understand the facts theyre are. children 13 and older are not kids or children they are simply teenagers. Does anyone agree with me?

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