Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Publication Date



For parafoil and payload aircraft, control is affected by changing the length of several rigging lines connected to the outboard side and rear of the parafoil leading to complex changes in the shape and orientation of the lifting surface. Flight mechanics of parafoil and payload aircraft most often employ a 6 or 9 DOF representation with the canopy modeled as a rigid body during flight. The effect of control inputs is idealized by the deflection of parafoil brakes on the left and right side of the parafoil. Using a small parafoil and payload aircraft, glide rates and turn performance were measured and compared against a 9 DOF simulation model. This work shows that to properly capture control response of parafoil and payload aircraft, tilt of the parafoil canopy must be accounted for along with left and right parafoil brake deflection.


Posted with AIAA permission. Originally presented at the 2003 AIAA Atmospheric Flight Mechanics Conference, Austin, TX, 2003. Paper Number AIAA 2003-5611.