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Basics on airfoils and lift generation

Airfoil for medium

speeds that will produce
more lift, but also more
Nice stall

Highspeed airfoil that will

generate low Cl and low
Rather sharp stall at low
angle of attack


Angle of attack

Smooth stall characteristics depends
largely on :
Low speed airfoil,
will produce much lift at low
angles of attack, much drag
and smooth stall at medium
angle of attack

Large nose radius

High camber
Medium to high profile thickness


Angle of attack
The angle between the
chordline and flightpath

Paraglider airfoil
A lot of volume gives much lift and
smooth stalling at high angle of
Also much drag as airspeed

Transition point
Separation point
Where the airflow can no
longer follow the airfoil.
Note : Not nesceseary the
same as stall

Downwash behind the

The amount of downwash
corresponds to the mass

The boundary layer

becomes turbulent

Upwash in fornt of the

The air directly ahead of the
wing will be slightly
compressed and will cause a
uward motion in front of the

Stagnation point
Where the air chooses to go over or below the
This point wanders forward with increasing speed
and wice versa

Boundary layer just a
few cm deep

There will always be some degree of separation

behind a wing during normal flight.
If we increase angle of attack, this point moves
A stall Follows when this point has moved sufficient
far forward, and typhical at around 30% of

Static pressure

Total pressure = Static +

( Bernoullis law )
High static pressure moves up and
around te trailing edge to equalize
the low pressure there.

High dynamic, low

static pressure

0 velosity !

The airflow can not follow the airfoil

due to the velosity decrease past the
highest point of the airfoil

Low dynamic, high

static pressure

High pressure air from below moves

up the back of the airfoil, flowing
against the direction of flight,
Where the total velosity reaches 0 ,
separation follows.

Low pressure !!
Angle of

Negativ flow !

Stall !!
High Pressure !!

A stall will always happen because of a too high angle of

High angle of attack = LOW airspeed and vice versa ALWAYS !
On a paraglider, you control the angle of attck with your brakes.
In unaccellerated flight, the glider will stall at the same brake pull
( Exception: if you have trimmers on your risers )
Find, and know this point !!
Spend a lot of time flying near this point, straight and turning.
Practice flying really slow then gently stalling and then back to slow
This is much harder than it sounds, and more difficult than the
common fullstall manouver
All wings react different near and at the stalling point, but some
similarities exist.
Less brake pressure, and often pulsating brake force
Strange yawing motions
The sensation of sliding/falling backwards

Stall VS Spin
By reason of the way a paraglider is rigged; a stall can quickly lead to a spin
Almost without exception, when a pilot uncontrolled hits the ground, there has been a
rotation before impact.
The glider stalls, and a rotation develops into a spin
After a collapse, the glider enters a spiral or enters a spin due to overcorrection by
the pilot.

Paraglider Wash IN
To increase resistance to collapses, the
tips fly with a bit higher angle of attack than
the center.
Tip ch

This leads to the tips stalling before the

Center chord

The tip section is the most effective

generator of lateral control.
When this portion of the wing stalls,
directional control is lost
The wing enters a spin.
Airplane/ Hangglider Wash OUT
To prevent spins, the tips fly at a slightly
lower angle of attack.
( This can be done by geometric or aerodynamic
washout )

My to do list after a big


The glider flies again !

Remember :
It is always worse to do too much after a
Relax, let the glider fly, preserve airspeed.

Keep 20 % on the left side; if the wing does not


Do not pull the glider into a spin as you try

hard to reopen

Do not pump short, quick strokes

Apply right brake in long controlled strokes

Do not overdo this, SPIN DANGER !
Keep 20 % brake, lef and right ..
Wait a bit to see what the canopy does now,
many times it will reopen by itself
Axcept a certain heading change
DO NOT try hard to keep heading danger of
spin !!
Apply about 20 % brake, both
60 % collapse , rapid right turn
Full speed ahead

Nasty situations where the glider might stall

unexpected ..
Rapid sink

You are flying slowly

Suddenly you enter heavy sinking air
Flightpath becomes steeper, angle of attack becomes greater .
The glider might stall ..

Release brakes a bit if entering heavy,

sudden sink

Nasty situations where the glider might stall

unexpected ..
Entering rapid rising

Despite constant
braking, the glider

You are flying slow, near the terrain

The inner wing is suddenly lifted .
This wing will increase it`s angle of attack due to the vertical
component of relativ wind.
The glider stalls this wing and spins into the terrain

Increase airspeed a bit when close to the


Nasty situations where the glider might stall

unexpected ..
Wind gradient

Wind gradient / windshear means that the wind speed or direction

changes rapidly with altitude or distance.
Severity will increase with the roughness of the terrain below.

Wind speed


You are flying above the windshear and are maintaining slow, but safe
You enter the windshear, and suddenly your airspeed falls quickly
Lift is reduced, and the flightpath becomes steeper
Angle of attack increases further
A stable glider will tend to pitch forward, and a common mistake is to
apply brake to compensate for this . ( NOT GOOD !! )
The already high angle of attack increases even more
The glider stalls .

Release the brakes a bit when entering a wind

Allow the glider some forward pitching.

Maintain your airspeed

and avoid this