“Chain-stitching” your parachute lines

Chain-stitching” your parachute lines

 by Dan Michael
All photos by Mark Canepa

Everyone knows that one of the culprits with recovery is tangling of the canopies shroud lines.  Some years back, I purchased a 22’ man-rated C-9 parachute off of Ebay for my upscale “Cherokee-M”.  When I received the parachute, I noticed all the shroud lines were knotted in a bunch that somewhat resembled the braiding in a girls ponytail.  As I lifted the chute out of the box, all this fancy braiding simply unraveled.  I then realized that this was a “chain stitch”.

With a set-up like that in a rocket, I figured the shroud lines could not tangle with anything since they were independent of everything.  I contacted the seller of the parachute to ask about this knotted affair, and he told me that this was in fact, a chain stitch, and some parachutists use them so their lines and canopies do not tangle, plus it provides a more controlled opening instead of a sudden “snap” opening.  I had an idea of how to make a chain stitch, so I began to make one.  After a few attempts, I figured it out.

At the next launch, I tried a chain stitch with a 72” parachute for a recovery of a 15 pound rocket.  Upon deployment, everything worked perfect.  I then laced other shroud lines in the same fashion in several other rockets and everything worked perfect.  What I do know is this… start your chaining at the end of the shroud lines and finish at the canopy.  VERY IMPORTANT to do it in this order.  Here is what happens…

As the canopy is ejected and begins to open, the shroud lines are behind it, so they cannot tangle with the canopy.  As the rocket continues to fall, it pulls the lines away from the canopy, and with the canopy beginning to fill with air, both events continue to open the stitch.

I have proven time after time that this method eliminates tangled shroud lines.  I have used this technique on 48” chutes with a 7 pound rocket, all the way up to my 310 lb. Patriot with a 28’ man-rated chute, and continue to use it to present.

The following photos show and demonstrate step by step how this method is done.  The chute in these photo’s is a 16’ Spherachute.



The following photos show fan-folding the canopy and inserting the canopy into a deployment bag.