Parachutes Seminars & Training
Service & Support About Us Contact Us Fear

Big Air Home

Find us on Facebook

by Brian Germain

Download knowledge!

Parachute Designs by Brian Germain

The Lotus is Big Air's medium performance 9-Cell parachute equipped with “Airlocks". Similar in some ways to the PD Sabre 2, the Lotus is a versatile airfoil that will please both conservative experienced skydivers, and newer jumpers looking for a safe canopy. The rigid feel of the wing is reminiscent of the Jedei, but without the severe “ground-hungriness” or radical turns associated with elliptical designs.

Big Air's Canopies are now available as a Signature Series line only. That means that each one is hand-crafted by Brian Germain himself. Delivery times may vary, so contact us for details.

Available sizes (sq. ft.)*: 95, 105, 120, 136, 150, 170, 190

*The Measuring technique is similar to that used by Performance Designs.



“Wing-Loading" is the way in which parachute designers define the relationship of the weight of the skydiver to the size of the parachute. Wing Loading is measured in Pounds Per Square Foot (lbs/sf). We steer experienced and aggressive pilots toward the 1.4-1.8 lbs/sf range, intermediate and conservative pilots toward the 1.2 - 1.4 range, and beginner to intermediate skydivers are suggested to stay within the 1.0 - 1.2 range.

Ultimately, exact wing-loading is a matter of preference and experience.

Aspect Ratio

"Aspect Ratio" is the relationship of a canopy's span (wingtip-to-wingtip) to it's chord (front-to-back). For example, a completely square parachute has an aspect ratio of 1.0. The aspect ratio of the Lotus is similar to the PD Sabre 2, (about 2.73 to 1, depending upon how you choose to measure it). This is slightly higher than the Samurai, which improves the glide and slows the turn-rate somewhat.

Elliptical Planform

"Planform" is the general shape of the wing when viewed from the top or bottom. Different shapes perform very differently, and a designer must choose the shape carefully in order to illicit the intended performance envelope.

The Lotus has a dual-tapered planform, meaning that the leading and trailing edge both have a slight curvature. However, we have found that excessive curvature of the leading edge can lead to such negative attributes as opening problems, particularly in line-twists, as well as excessive "over-steer" (see next passage). Therefore, the ellipse used on the Lotus is tapered more on the trailing edge than the leading edge of the canopy.

Keep in mind, however, that the slightly shaped planform utilized in the Lotus is absolutely minimal. The Lotus is, for all intents and purposes a rectangular planform, with a little shape to omit wrinkles and reduce the toggle pressure.


"Over-Steer" is a wing's tendency to continue turning even after the control input is ceased. This "slippy-slidey" feeling is considered by most pilots to be a nuisance. Therefore, the Lotus has no over-steer following a toggle or riser turn.

Slight over-steer characteristics can be elicited, however, using weight shift in the harness.


"Weight-Shift" is the use of deliberate leaning in the harness as a control input. Lifting your right knee will cause a left turn on most canopies, particularly ellipticals. The Lotus responds somewhat to a shift in C.G. to one side of the harness, but not as severely as the Samurai. By leaning into the turn, the pilot can increase the rate of dive, as well as the length of the recovery arc.

Glide Ratio

"Glide Ratio" is the flight path of a wing, measured in descent distance compared to forward progression. Unfortunately, this flight characteristic varies greatly with use and flying conditions, making it difficult to accurately quantify. We find it most useful to simply compare our canopies to others of similar design. The glide of the Lotus is similar to the PD Sabre 2, and flatter than the Samurai.

Recovery Arc

"Recovery Arc" describes the amount of time and altitude required for a parachute to recover to level flight following a radical maneuver. Although it is difficult to quantify this characteristic in a manner that would be useful, generalities can be very helpful when choosing a canopy.

The Lotus falls somewhere between the PD Sabre and the Samurai in it's aggression to recover from a dive. In other words, the Lotus will dive for a time immediately following an airspeed-increasing maneuver, but gradually pull out on it's own to a slowly-descending, high-speed flight mode. This design characteristic makes the Lotus very easy to swoop successfully, as you are able to pick up speed at a high altitude, and then wait for the right moment to level off with a bump on the toggles. Compared to canopies that pull you to level flight before you are ready, the Lotus is much easier to land, and swoops further across the ground.


"Slow-Flight" is, as it sounds, a parachute's ability to fly slow without stalling or loosing directional control. The Lotus is very comfortable in deep brakes, with a very slow stall speed. This softens your touchdowns, and makes braked-approaches a possibility.


The Landing Flare is the dynamic process of changing the canopy's angle of attack to level off and land. The "Sweet Spot" is the point in the toggle stroke that causes the parachute to fly level with the ground. A canopy that levels off below hip level tends to be considered harder to land.

Colon Berry swoops the pond at Zephyrhills under the Lotus 95

The Lotus has a fairly quick response to the toggles, allowing the pilot to level off with minimal input on the brakes. With normal wing-loading, the "sweet-spot" is about shoulder height. This location varies according to wing-loading, airspeed, and toggle-setting. Faster approaches require less input to level off, while slow approaches require more toggle movement to achieve level flight.

With this in mind, the Lotus will land easier and softer when the pilot flies full-flight to flare altitude, and then applies the brakes quicker during the first phase of the flare to effect a decisive level-off. Starting the flare slowly at a higher altitude will only diminish the airspeed without causing the canopy to level off. Effectively then, you will have lowered the sweet-spot when you descend to the proper flare altitude.


All Big Air parachutes are made exclusively from Performance Textiles SOLARMAX fabric. No other fabric lasts as long, period.

All the reinforcing tapes are extra strong, above and beyond what is customarily used in the skydiving industry.

Our lines are Spectra, with the exception of the brake lines, which are made from Vectran. This proven method prevents shrinkage of the brakes, which prevents many of the problems caused by dimensional change associated with spectra brake lines. Our method of scaling and manufacturing linesets in unsurpassed in the industry, making every canopy fly exactly the same, without the hassle of built-in turns.

The seams of Big Air canopies are the same utilized in many of Performance Designs newer designs, including the Velocity and the Vengeance.

At Big Air we have a very simple philosophy on the longevity of our product:

"We get customers by building the best parachutes in the world, not by having the old ones wear out."

Precise Computer Cutting

All of Big Air's canopies are designed and cut out by an advanced computer system. This affords us the ability to design more complicated and exact panel shapes, and cut them out with perfect consistency. You should expect nothing less from a company like Big Air.

Legal Information Privacy Policies
eXTReMe Tracker