Umbrella Parachutes

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Introduction: Umbrella Parachutes

I have been making parachutes from umbrellas for years. The nylon is from an old umbrella and is perfect for them. Now that I have kids I get to use their old ones to make new toys for me and them.

I made this Dora parachute for my daughter. The weight/passenger came from the handle of the umbrella. My four year-old is not big enough to throw high enough, but she does enjoy trying to catch it.

Step 1: Skinning the Umbrella

Start by cutting the fabric from the ribs of the broken umbrella. I use a box cutter or xacto to carefully the threads that the hold the material to the metal ribs. If you can salvage the tip leave them on, you can tie the strings to those.

Here are some that I have some saved up for a rainy day.

Step 2: Choosing Your Parachute

I have been waiting to try making one from an old golf umbrella.

Step 3: Measuring the String

Get some string, nylon cord works best. I use about 1 1/2 the radius of the umbrella. Don't cut yet. Keeping doubling until you have eight strands (depending on the number of seams of the umbrella).

Step 4: Tying It Off

Tie one end into a knotted loop.

Step 5: Now Cut

Cut the end of the other end, leaving eight strands.

Step 6: Connecting the Ends

I got lucky with this umbrella, it had plastic tips on the ends, a first for me. Just make a slip-knot and tighten.

If you don't have tips, then knot each end and use a sewing machine to stitch back and forth over the knot.

Step 7: Adding Weight

Make sure the do the strings and order all around the umbrella. Then attach a good weight. Heavier than you think, it will help you throw it further and unroll in the air better.

Step 8: Packing the Chute

Gather the chute together.

Step 9: More Packing

Fold over.

Step 10: Ready to Launch

Fold again, and wrap the strings around. Not too tight. It needs to unravel on the way down.

Step 11: Launch!

Then launch it! Throw it up as far as you can. Watch out for trees and wires. Be careful that no one is underneath when throwing, sometimes it is wrapped to tight it won't open.

I made this one and around 15 minutes.

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26 Comments

Parachute update!

We had my daughter's birthday party last week. It was a Hunger Games theme and I was able to make a silver parachute for the party.


I had a broken umbrella I was saving for a rainy day. It was black and I painted it with silver spray paint. It lasted long enough for the party. I came up with a better weight for the payload. A couple of end caps and a scrap of PVC. They loved getting the gifts from the sponsors.

hungergames_parachute.jpghungergames_parachute_conta.jpg

Do you know what the desent rate is?

That is soooooooo cool!!!!!!!!!!!!

Umm... my umbrella has been broken for a while, and rusted, and i wonder if I can use it even though there are holes where the joints were. And when I take out the handle, there will be a hole in the top. Is this a problem? Should i sew a patch over it? if so, I can.

The hole will help to keep the parachute stable. I have actually made the holes bigger with a diameter of maybe an inch and they are very stable.

I had a hole in the center of some of my umbrella skins (they a had a fancy point for the shaft). Didn't make any difference that I could tell. They have a lot of surface area.

the holes will benefit it. Real parachutes need a central hole to let the air escape, otherwise too much air is caught and the load will begin to pendulum swing side to side as air escapes from the sides of the parachute. Ultimately it can cause a complete canopy collapse! Keep the holes for a nice stable flight.
google search gives more scientific explanation:
http://www.seed.slb.com/qa2/FAQView.cfm?ID=346

This is an awesome idea. I was looking to make some parachutes with my sons but online instructions for making the canopies are complicated.

Now, in order to make them even more fun, time to rig a launcher. I'm thinking a large slingshot type launcher and a golf umbrella 'chute with a significant weight for some serious air time!

Nice instructable, thanks!