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A drogue parachute is a parachute that deploys from a rapidly moving object in order to slow it, provide control and stability, or as a pilot parachute to deploy a larger parachute.
Design and operational characteristics
The drogue parachute's simpler design eases deployment: whereas a conventional parachute could tangle while unfolding or fail to inflate properly (thus slowing the falling object less than it should) the drogue parachute will more easily and more reliably inflate and thus generate the expected amount of drag.
In 1911 Giovanni Agusta invented the drogue chute. In 1912 Russian inventor Gleb Kotelnikov first applied it on a road near Tsarskoye Selo (now part of St. Petersburg) by accelerating a Russo-Balt automobile to top speed and then opening a parachute attached to the back seat.
In 1937 Soviet airplanes in the Arctic first used drag chutes whilst supporting such famous polar expeditions of the era as the first manned drifting ice station North Pole-1, which was launched the same year. The drag chute enabled airplanes to land on smaller ice-floes.
Among the earliest regular production military aircraft to use a drogue chute to shorten its landing was the Arado Ar 234 reconnaissance-bomber of the Luftwaffe because both the trolley-and-skid undercarriage series of eight prototypes for the never-produced Ar 234A series and the tricycle undercarriage-equipped Ar 234B production series were fitted with drogue chute deployment capability in the extreme rear ventral fuselage.
Drogue parachutes are sometimes used to deploy a main or reserve parachute by using the drag generated by the drogue to pull the main parachute from its container. The most familiar drogue parachute is in parachuting and is referred to as a pilot chute when used in a single user (sports) parachute system. The pilot chute deploys the main or reserve parachute and is not used for deceleration or for stabilisation. Tandem systems are different; a drogue is so deployed shortly after exiting the aircraft as to reduce the terminal velocity of the pair of tandem jumpers and later to deploy the main parachute as on sports systems.
When used to shorten an aircraft's landing, a drogue chute is called a drag parachute or braking parachute.
Drogue parachutes may stabilise direction—e.g., of a thrown RKG-3 anti-tank grenade --and often control very fast descents; e.g., of spacecraft during atmospheric reentry or such nuclear bombs as the B61 and B83. Some escape capsules for supersonic aircraft deploy drogue parachutes to stabilise and decelerate, enabling either a main chute to be deployed or the pilot to exit the capsule and use a personal chute.
- "Abbreviations and Acronyms". Relive Apollo 11. NASA.
- Parachuting at the site Divo: The Russian Book of records and achievements (Russian)
- "North American Eagle Project: Deceleration – High Speed Parachute Systems".
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