Canopy Wingload Calculator


Wing Loading

Skydiving wing loading is a calculation that expresses the relationship between the total weight of the jumper and their gear, compared to the size of their parachute canopy. It's typically measured in pounds per square foot (lb/ft²) or kilograms per square meter (kg/m²).

Here's the formula: Wing Loading = Jumper Weight + Gear Weight / Canopy Size

Wing loading influences several aspects of your skydive:

  • Descent rate: Higher wing loading generally leads to faster descent due to increased pressure on the canopy.
  • Forward speed: Increased wing loading typically results in greater forward speed under canopy.
  • Glide ratio: Lower wing loading usually means a better glide ratio (distance traveled horizontally for each foot of descent).
  • Turning: Higher wing loading often translates to faster and sharper turns.
  • Landing: Lower wing loading typically allows for slower and softer landings.

Factors to consider:

  • Wing loading is just one factor: It's crucial to consider your experience, the wind conditions, and the specific canopy characteristics when making decisions about your jump.
  • Recommendations vary: Consult your instructor or canopy manufacturer for guidance on appropriate wing loading for your skill level and equipment.
  • Safety first: Never exceed the recommended wing loading limits for your canopy.

Remember, experienced skydivers and instructors are the best resources for understanding and safely utilizing wing loading information. Don't make decisions based solely on calculations without proper training and supervision.

USPA SIM Reference

5.3 Main parachute

  1. Jumpers should choose canopies that will provide an acceptable landing in a wide range of circumstances, based on several factors including canopy size, wing loading, planform (shape), skill level, and experience.
  2. Owners should verify with a rigger that all applicable updates and bulletins have been accomplished.
  3. Jumpers should observe the recommendations of the canopy manufacturer for the correct canopy size, usually listed by maximum recommended weight with respect to other factors:
    1. the jumper’s experience
    2. drop zone elevation
    3. other conditions, such as density altitude
  4. Wing loading, measured as exit weight in pounds per square foot (psf) provides only one gauge of a canopy’s performance characteristics.
    1. A smaller canopy at an equal wing loading compared to a larger one of the same design will exhibit a faster and more radical control response, with more altitude loss in any maneuver.
    2. Design, materials, and construction techniques can cause two equally wing-loaded canopies to perform very differently.
    3. Different planforms (square vs. elliptical) will exhibit very different handling characteristics.
  5. The Minimum Canopy Recommendations chart represents the minimum recommended canopy size by exit weight and total jumps made on solo equipment with square parachutes. Canopy size for students is at the discretion of the instructor.
    1. Due to the varied sizes of canopies from different manufacturers, any canopy less than 3% smaller than the listed recommendation is acceptable.
    2. Canopy choices for jumpers over 1,000 jumps is at their discretion.
    3. These minimum canopy recommendations may be too aggressive for some jumpers and, in other cases, too conservative. Instructors, canopy coaches and drop zone leadership should assist their skydivers in selecting an appropriate canopy for their jumper's ability and progression.

6.10 Canopy Flight

  1. “Advanced” refers to practices that combine equipment and control techniques to increase descent and landing approach speeds.
    1. A canopy designed for more performance may exhibit relatively docile characteristics with a light wing loading and when flown conservatively.
    2. A canopy designed for docile performance that is flown aggressively and jumped with a higher wing loading can exhibit high-performance characteristics.
  2. The types of errors that novice canopy flyers make on docile canopies without getting hurt could have serious consequences when made on more advanced equipment.
  3. Advanced equipment generally refers to canopies loaded as follows:
    1. above 230 square feet, 1.1 pounds per square foot or higher
    2. from 190 to 229 square feet, 1.0 pounds per square foot or higher
    3. from 150 to 189 square feet, .9 pounds per square foot or higher
    4. canopies smaller than 150 square feet at any wing loading
  4. Canopy design can play a significant role in skewing these numbers one way or the other.
    1. Some canopies are designed for flaring with less-than-expert technique.
    2. Some canopies are designed to perform better with higher wing loadings but require skillful handling.
    3. Earlier canopy designs, particularly those using 0-3 cfm canopy fabric (“F-111”), can be more challenging to land, even with relatively light wing loadings.
  5. Advanced technique generally refers to control manipulation to induce speeds greater than stabilized, hands-off, level flight (natural speed) during descent and on the final landing approach.
  6. Canopy flight characteristics and control become more challenging as field elevation, temperature, and humidity increase.
  7. These recommendations do not consider the specialized information and expertise required to safely fly canopies at wing loadings approaching 1.5 pounds per square foot and beyond or canopies approaching 120 square feet or smaller.
  8. Each progressive step in downsizing, technique, and canopy design should be a conscious decision, rather than considered a routine part of a skydiver’s progression:
    1. Jumpers downsizing to get a smaller or lighter container should also be prepared to handle the added responsibility of jumping a higher-performance canopy.
    2. Jumpers at drop zones with a high-performance canopy culture need to understand that neglecting the individual training required to pursue that discipline safely can lead to serious consequences for themselves and for others.
    3. Jumpers need to understand the design intents of the canopies they purchase to see whether those canopies match their overall expectations and goals.
    4. The decision to progress to advanced canopy skills and equipment should include others who can be affected, including jumpers in the air and landing area who could be affected by a canopy piloting error.