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Book: The Parachute and its Pilot

book cover

You need look no further than the back cover for recommendations. Shannon Pilcher says that it ‘is the best book on the topic of ram-air parachutes for all skill levels.’ The most important part of this statement is all skill levels – don’t think that this book is only aimed at those skydivers who are interested in swooping.

Book: The Parachute and its Pilot
By: Brian Germain
Cost: $29.99
Value for Money: 9/10
From: Big Air Sportz
In a Nutshell: Read this book!

A careful reading of this book should be a part of the canopy piloting requirements for the B-license, and mandatory reading for every skydiver

This book is now in its fifth edition, released June 2014, and is also available for Kindles.

Author Background

Brian Germain has been designing, building and flying parachutes for a long time and writes in a very informative and easy style. He has designed many parachutes such as the Lotus, Samurai and Aerodyne’s Sensei, yet he never tries the hard sell approach to his own designs, which is particularly refreshing. Equally impressive is his willingness to use examples of his own, sometimes painful, mistakes in the hope that you can avoid them.

This book is very detailed and is great for beginners and advanced skydivers... I have over 500 skydives and this also helped me a lot

Science of Flight

The book is split into two main sections. The first is called ‘The Magnet Under The Table’ and explains aerodynamics, control inputs, flying in turbulence, navigation and accuracy, landings, high-speed approaches and design concepts. Of particular interest to those looking to downsize, or instructors advising on kit decisions, should be Brian’s ‘Wing-loading Never Exceed Chart’.

The Human Factor

The second part of the book is called ‘The Human Element’ and discusses psychology and physiology, fear and learning, stress, visualisation and teaching. I didn’t think I would particularly enjoy this section of the book as much as the first, but it became a real page-turner. You may think, as I did, what does all it all have to do with canopy piloting? Well, as Brian says, ‘understanding ourselves is perhaps the ultimate defence against gravity'.

This book is by no means aimed solely at swoopers. If you are already swooping or interested in learning how, please resist the temptation to skip straight to the ‘High-speed Approaches and Landings’ chapter. The book contains useful information from start to finish. It made me smile – and occasionally wince!

Brian's unique ability to combine a clearly defined technical explanation with his own self-realized Zen approach to flying offers the reader a truly comprehensive insight into the experience that is canopy piloting.


If you have done a canopy course then read this book, as you will find it to be a valuable resource. If you haven’t done such a course then I would recommend you do one as soon as possible – and read this book!