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This entry was posted on February 26, 2009.
Alex, a 7th grader from Pennsylvania, sent us his science fair project in the hopes that we might find the results useful. You see, he spotted a design flaw in the parachute that lets Cap'n Danger drift safely to the ground. Although this same parachute did get used in our Skydiving Sigmund Freud product, we're happy that it's going to be corrected before our Baby Chute gets off the ground.
First, we have to applaud Alex for not only getting to use a parachuting chimp in his science fair project, but also getting to study people who died in parachute related accidents! As he points out in his research section, "If parachutes were faulty, or they were poorly folded, their users would die as they fell from hundreds of feet." That makes my science fair project about bean sprouts look positively wimpy by comparison.
First he gathered his supplies.
Cap'n Danger looks positively insane in front of that torpedo, doesn't he? It's like a simian version of Dr. Strangelove! Alex used the toy torpedo in the experiment because it had a more regular shape and weight than Cap'n Danger.
Cap'n Danger's parachute is a whole piece of cloth with no hole. Real parachutes have a hole. Alex's hypothesis was, "The smaller the area of the stabilizing hole the slower the speed of the parachute. The parachute must have a stabilizing hole in order to maintain stable position during the descent of the parachute." In other words, because the parachute has no hole in it, it would jerk back and forth too much to be used in real life.
To test this theory, Alex threw the parachute off of very high things. We can't say for sure from the picture, but it's possible he got to up on the roof of his school and throw a parachute off over and over again. How cool is that?
In conclusion Alex said in his letter to us, "I tested the effect that four different hole sizes on the top of the parachute had on the flight time and performance. The results of this research shows that the parachute with a 1 inch hole cut into the top of the parachute has the slowest and most steady descent. I would be more than happy to share the results of my project with you and hope that it will be useful for improving the performance of this toy."
Thanks Alex! If Cap'n Danger ever get sordered again, we'll make the change. And, you can sleep well, knowing that you may have prevented a serious chimp-related tragedy.