Para-Phernalia, Inc. has designed and manufactured the SOFTIE line of pilot emergency parachutes since 1979. Our emergency parachutes are known world wide for being the highest quality, most comfortable, and reliable emergency parachutes available.
There are seven different SOFTIE models which make up the SOFTIE product line. Each can be customized to suit your individual needs. Whether you fly powered aerobatics, gliders, warbirds, or any other type of aircraft, we have an emergency parachute system designed for your application.
Using Parachutes in Gliders - My 2 cents...
The use of parachutes in gliders is very common. Many soaring clubs in the U.K. and other European countries require the use of parachutes for all glider flights. I feel very comfortable without one in the Minnesota Soaring Club's ASK-21, but I often use them for doing aerobatics in the ASK-21. I do prefer to wear a parachute in most other gliders because I feel more safe (I have young kids and a lovely wife to come home to) and I actually feel more comfortable with a parachute than with assorted seat pads. I became accustomed to wearing a parachute when I flew in my first soaring contest. There were a lot of gliders sharing the same thermal and many pilots were spending too much time looking at their flight computers. Since then I feel a little naked without one. I am tall (6' 3") so I fly with a Long Softie (extra long version) with the sheep skin pad option, Confor Foam seat cushion option, and lumbar support pad option.
The most popular parachutes for use in gliders are the Long Softie and the Mini Softie. The Micro Softie is also popular with lighter pilots.
- Backpack Type Parachute - The parachute and lines are stored in the container which is mounted on the back. There is no seat cushion as found on chair type parachutes. This type is best in airplanes that have seats that accommodate a back mounted parachute. Both backpack and chair types are commonly used in sailplanes - depending on how the seat pan of the glider accommodates the parachute and pilot. Chair type parachutes are usually a bit thinner than backpack type parachutes. Variations of the backpack type include Softie's wedge designs, thick at the bottom and thin at the top, which specifically add lumbar and sacral support during high, positive G maneuvers.
- Canopy - The fabric of the parachute that slows your decent
- Chair Type Parachute - The canopy and lines are stored in the back of the container just like in a backpack parachute. The rig extends down below the part that holds the canopy and padding is used to make a comfortable seat to sit on. The transition from the part that contains the canopy and the padded seat is smooth. That can be a major advantage in glider cockpits that are very reclined when compared with a backpack style parachute which goes from full thickness to no thickness at the bottom of the rig. Both backpack and chair types are commonly used in sailplanes - depending on how the seat pan of the glider accommodates the parachute and pilot. Chair type parachutes are usually a bit thinner than backpack type parachutes. Therefore the chair type may be best for tall pilots trying to fit into a cramped glider cockpit. Another advantage to the chair type is that there is no need to use a seat cushion. I have found that it can be awkward trying to adjust the position of both the backpack parachute and a separate seat cushion. That is not an issue with a chair type because the seat cushion is an integral part of the parachute.
- Container - The Cordura Nylon package into which the canopy and lines are packed
- Control Toggles - Loops attached to the risers and used to steer the canopy. Pull on the left toggle to turn left and the right toggle to turn right.
- Harness - The straps around your torso and legs that support you if you need to use the parachute to descend. See the 2 harness types (Conventional and Aerobatic) in the harness options list below.
- Parachute (or "rig", or "kit") - The entire assembly, including the canopy, container and harness. The term "rig" is common in the U.S. The term "kit" is used often in Great Britain, Australia, New Zealand, and by other Europeans who learned British English.
- Ripcord - The handle and cord assembly used to open the parachute.
- Risers - Straps running between the shoulders of the parachute harness and the lines that attach to the canopy
- Seat Type Parachute - The canopy and lines are packed into the container that you sit on. It is designed for use in aircraft that simply have no room for a backpack type parachute. The harness extends across the back, but the canopy and lines are stored in the seat (see the Seatpack Softie). This type is often confused with the chair type parachute design.
- Type - "Type" denotes an FAA regulatory category, also related to rigger certifications. The four "types" are back, chest, seat, and chair. Most riggers are sport parachutists, qualified to pack back types only.
- Wedge Type Parachute - There really is no "Wedge Type". It is really a variation of the backpack type, specifically designed to add lumbar and sacral support during high, positive G maneuvers. It is thickest at the bottom and thinnest at the top.
Each Softie Emergency Parachute System comes with your choice of Conventional Harness or our exclusive Aerobatic Harness. You may also choose from a number harness and container options to customize your Softie to your individual needs. Options can be selected when ordering.
(click on image to view larger version)
- Most Popular
|Our conventional harness has a fully adjustable main lift web which permits the harness to be adjusted to fit a wide range of individuals. The harness has connection points on each leg strap and on on the chest strap. The leg straps come standard with B12 Snap connectors. As an option, we offer Thread Thru Adapters or Quick Ejectors on the leg straps. The chest strap comes standard with a Thread Thru Adapter, a Quick Ejector is optional on the chest strap.||$0|
|Aerobatic Harness||Our unique crossover style Aerobatic Harness is designed specifically for pilots doing high negative G aerobatic maneuvers. The harness is designed so that the leg strap connecting hardware is moved away from the hips where it can dig in and cause pain and discomfort during high negative G aerobatic maneuvers. The harness is attached by having the leg straps pass through a high strength soft loop at the hip and then cross over and buckle on the opposite side of the harness just below the rib cage This unique design has proven to be very popular with aerobatic pilots. There is no additional cost for this harness option.|
By using a unique high strength webbing loop at the hip rather than the normal connecting hardware we are able to eliminate the possibility of the connecting hardware being forced into the pelvic bone (very painful) by the lap belt during high negative G aerobatics.
(recommended for leg straps)
|Standard leg strap hardware on all Softies|
Available for $50 on check strap
|Thread Thru Adaptors|
(recommended for chest strap)
|Standard chest strap hardware on all Softies. The thinnest and lightest of the connectors we offer. For a pilot that is interested in minimizing weight and bulk, thread thru adaptors are an excellent choice.||$0|
|Quick Ejectors||Allow for fast, easy, one hand disconnection of the harness attach points. Quick ejectors offer a nice convenience, however, it is important to know they are bulkiest and heaviest of all the connector hardware we offer.||$85|
(2 leg straps)
(click on image to view larger version)
|Genuine Sheepskin Back Pad|
|This is a popular option with glider pilots. It increases your comfort - which is essential for long flights in a cramped glider cockpit. It greatly reduces he fatigue and discomfort caused by poor circulation in compressed regions by distributing the load more evenly. It runs the full length of the rig and is secured to container with snaps. This option does increase the overall thickness of the rig.||$150|
|Cotton Sweat Pad|
|This consists of a 1/4" thick white cotton pad for increased comfort and to absorb moisture. Machine washable, Made of multiple layers of cotton. It runs the full length of the rig and is secured to container with snaps. This is a nice, lower cost alternative to the Sheepskin Back Pad.||$85|
|Confor Foam Seat Cushion for Long Softie|
|A 1" thick Confor Foam (blue - medium density) energy absorbing cushion is available for use in the seat area of any Long Softie. It can be retrofitted to any existing Long Softie because the pad is inserted through the side of the seat which is closed using Velcro. The $35 upgrade fee is for replacing the standard foam cushion with the Confor Foam cushion. Replacement inserts can be ordered below for $50. There are 2 lengths available - one for use in the standard Long Softie and one for the extra-long version of the Long Softie.||$50|
|Lumbar Pad||The lumbar pad is add additional lower back support - which is nice since some gliders offer poor lower back support. It consists of a soft foam cushion inside a nylon cover. Velcro is used to fasten it to the parachute. The Velcro on the parachute is about 10 inches long - which allows for vertical adjustment. The color matches the color of the parachute rig.|
This is an option for the Long Softie only.
|Extra Long Softie||Taller pilots will want to order the long (40" vs 36") version of the Long Softie to allow the seat pad to reach the optimum location for maximum comfort.||$0|
|Bailout Bottle Cover||$35|
|Pocket for Personal Locator Beacon (PLB)|
Personal locator beacons (PLBs) are a great safety option. They can be activated if you parachute into a remote area. This option consists of a pocket on the main lift web for storing a small PLB. It is secured to the main lift web using Velcro and a snap.
|Custom Monogram||You can personalize your Softie with your initials or aircraft registration numbers. Choose any combination of up to six letters and numbers and we will embroider them on the right side of the harness in your choice of colors. The downside is that it will be more difficult to sell your parachute in the future.||$25|
|Standard Colors||Standard colors are shown at right. Use the color chart and example photo below to customize your Softie to match your style. |
Note: It is possible to use different colors in areas 1 and 2, but it looks better with those areas having the same color.
When you order you are given the option to select a single color for the container and harness and trim. Please send me an e-mail or call me to specify different colors for the harness, trim or 3 stripes.
Note that the Three Stripes option is an extra cost option described here: Three Stripes.
|Custom Colors||Custom colors are shown at right.||$25|
|Three Stripes||Add a splash of color to keep life interesting.|| ||$15|
|Matching Carry-All Bag||A Carry-All Bag ($45) is required and not included by the manufacturer. Cumulus Soaring, Inc includes one FREE of charge.||$45|