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by Brian Germain

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Parachute Designs by Brian Germain

The Samurai is our high performance 9-Cell elliptical parachute equipped with “Airlocks." Based on the Jedei Sweptwing, the Samurai is a versatile airfoil that will please both conservative experienced skydivers, and super-swoopers alike. The rigid feel of the wing is reminiscent of the Jedei, but without the severe “ground-hungriness” that some customers didn’t like. Make no mistake, however, the Samurai will out-swoop the Jedei both in overall distance as well as in softness of the touchdown.

The Samurai features the original Germain Airlock design (same as the Jedei), a much stronger and better looking construction method, reduced pack volume, softer openings, more consistent front riser pressure, which all adds up to even more rigid feeling in turbulence!!!

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

*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 1.5 to 1.8 lbs/sf (many pilots are comfortable above 2.0lbs/sf). Intermediate and conservative pilots toward the 1.3 - 1.5 range. They have even been used by inexperienced jumpers at very low wing-loadings... Ultimately, 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). {Example: a completely square parachute has an aspect ratio of 1.0}

The aspect ratio is similar to the Jedei, which is lower than the Stiletto. (about 2.65 to 1, depending upon how you choose to measure it). This is slightly higher than the Jedei, while still lower than the Vengeance.

By utilizing a moderate aspect ratio, we have found that the openings are remarkably consistent and almost completely free of malfunction, even in line-twists.

Elliptical Planform

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

The Samurai has a dual-tapered planform, meaning that the leading and trailing edge both have 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 Samurai is tapered much more on the trailing edge than the leading edge of the canopy.

For all our Jedei Pilots, the Jedei had no leading edge taper whatsoever. This had many advantages, but created very ground-hungry turns, as well as heavy front riser pressure. These negative attributes have been eliminated in the next Generation Jedei: the Samurai!


"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 Samurai has no over-steer following a toggle turn.

We have, however, found that a small degree of over-steer is helpful in attaining the maximum swoop distance. The Samurai, therefore has a bit of over-steer following a front-riser turn, the approach method most used by expert "turf-surfers". This characteristic can be maximized or minimized 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 Samurai responds very well to a shift in C.G. to one side of the harness, and is necessary to get the ultimate ground swoop. By leaning into the turn, the pilot can increase the rate of dive, as well as the length of the recovery arc. In fact, the Samurai will do a very enjoyable and useful "auto-spiral" through the use of ONLY weight-shift. We have found this an excellent method of spiraling to get below other canopies with minimum effort.

To utilize the over-steer and weight-shift response of the Samurai on front-riser approaches, try releasing your front riser prior to achieving your final approach heading. Then complete the rotation and dive using only your weight shift. Leaning into the turn keeps the dive and turn going, while leaning away from the turn begins your level-out.

Interestingly, the highest recorded speeds on our test flights have been utilizing weight shift to create a low-drag turn.

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 Samurai is a bit flatter than the Jedei, but still steeper than the Stiletto (it's flatter than the FX and the Velocity by far).

I don't land out, if that answers your question...

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 Samurai falls somewhere between the Jedei and the Stiletto in it's aggression to recover from a dive. In other words, the Samurai will dive fairly aggressively 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 Samurai 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 Samurai 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 Samurai is very comfortable in deep brakes, with a very slow stall speed. This softens your touchdowns, and makes braked-approaches a possibility.


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...

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