Introduction To The Harness Mounted Drogue Chute

The drogue chute is a device designed to increase drag and in so doing significantly reduce your glide ratio. The drogue reduces glide ratio noticeably even at slow speeds, but the affect is much greater at higher speeds. In effect, the drogue gives a high performance glider the glide ratio performance envelope of a much lower performance glider, and as a result, makes many aspects of landing much easier. First, the drogue allows you to set up much higher, making it easier to avoid obstacles at the approach end of the landing area. Second, the steeper glide path the drogue provides makes it much easier to set up an accurate approach to the target, because the same error in altitude results in a smaller error in distance traveled. Third, if you do find yourself too high after turning final, the drogue gives you a much greater ability to shorten your glide by flying faster. Finally, after you round out, the extra drag from the drogue will make you slow down to landing speed much more quickly. As a result, you will spend less time in that vulnerable phase of the landing where you are “floating” across the LZ, at near minimum controllable airspeed. Also, because you will slow down more quickly, it will be easier to time your flare and make a good landing. In short, in many ways using a drogue chute for approach and landing will give you the feel of flying a much lower performance glider.

Specific Features Of The Wills Wing Drogue Chute

After experimenting with several types of drogue chutes, chute attachment methods and chute deployment methods, Wills Wing has settled on the Asymmetric Mount, Short Coupled, Harness Mounted Drogue Chute as the best design. The features of this design are as follows:

  1. The canopy is a 60″ diameter pulled down apex parachute.
  2. The total deployed length of the canopy from bridle end to canopy apex when inflated is approximately 45″ and is thus designed to deploy and remain inside the trailing edge of the glider, to prevent any possibility of entanglement.
  3. The parachute bridle includes an integral swivel to prevent a spinning canopy from wrapping up the lines and closing the parachute. A new canopy will generally not spin, but if the canopy becomes asymmetric with age, it may start to spin after deployment.
  4. The parachute is designed to be attached on one side of the harness, at the point of attachment of the main support strap to the harness. (The parachute requires a secure attachment to a part of the harness which is fixed and stable to prevent induced oscillations in the canopy). When used with a harness which has a single, center mounted main support, a means must be provided to attach the drogue chute to the side of the harness, at a point even with the main support attachment, and in an area where the harness is reasonably rigid when the pilot is in landing position.
  5. The drogue chute is designed to deploy and remain slightly out to one side of the pilot. You can expect that the parachute will try to fly outwards, and slightly upwards after deployment. This keeps the parachute in a relatively clean airflow, and will help to keep it stable and inflated. A canopy which is mounted symmetrically on the harness and/or one which tends to fly directly behind the point of attachment, will be much more subject to deflation and oscillation caused by flying in the wake of the pilot’s body.
Safety Considerations

There are several important safety considerations in using a drogue chute. Since approach and landing takes place close to the ground, this is a critical phase of flight, and even small problems can create a very dangerous situation for the pilot. A few years ago a pilot in Europe died after deploying a drogue chute either over his side flying wire or his basetube, which caused him to lose control of the glider and led to a fatal accident. If a drogue chute were properly deployed, and then subsequently became caught or entangled with the keel or a batten on the trailing edge of the glider, it could dangerously compromise the pilot’s ability to control the glider during the approach and landing. Even just the distraction to the pilot created by a drogue chute which is oscillating significantly, or collapsing and re-inflating, could cause a lack of attention that could lead to a serious accident. The safe use of a drogue chute requires constant and careful attention on the part of the pilot to all potential safety concerns.

Drogue Manual, 1st Edition (135KB PDF File) now available on-line.

Caution: Do not hold the drogue in your hand for any longer than it takes to make a clean, safe deployment. Do not fly the glider holding the drogue against the control bar. Avoid any possibility of the drogue being deployed over the basetube, over the side wire, or in such a way that it could pull directly on any part of the glider.

Drogue Chute Prices

Part # Description: Retail