Wingloading is a number indicating the load per unit of surface of a parachute.
The USA being the biggest market and using the imperial system, it’s most of the time expressed in Pounds per square feet (lbs/ft² or lbs/sqft).
WHAT IS YOUR WINGLOADING AND WHAT DOES IT MEAN?
Before we dive into some advanced mathematics, now is a good time to let you know that your body size plays a big role in determining what canopy size is right for you. If you’re a giant and have a friend who is tiny with the same amount of “experience” as you, it’s more than likely they will be getting a smaller wing than you. To say it simply: the bigger the person the bigger their wing will need to be.
NOW FOR THE ADVANCED MATHEMATICS
To work out your wingloading we need to work out your exit weight in pounds: your Exit Weight is you and all your equipment you need to jump from a plane. If you know this in pounds then you’re good to go, if you’re one of those strange countries that use the metric system (also known as the majority of the planet) and work in kilograms, you simply need to times your exit weight by 2.2 and once you have this number you divide it by your canopy size.
Here’s how the full equation looks if converting to pounds:
Exit Weight x 2.2 = Weight in pounds ÷ You Canopy Size = Your Wingloading
So as an example, let’s say your exit weight is 92kg and you jump a Crossfire 3 129.
This is what the equation would look like:
92 x 2.2 = 202.4 ÷ 129 = 1.56 is your Wingloading
Using this equation, we can see that different size people will have a different wingloading under the same size canopy. Basically the heavier we are under a canopy compared to a lighter person the higher our wingloading and the faster it will go, meaning the more experience and skill we will need to fly it.
When wingloading increases, the parachute tends to fly faster but is also more sensitive on inputs and requires more and more experience to be piloted safely. It is not uncommon to see wingloadings above 3 in canopy piloting competitions or during XRW jumps, but landing such heavily loaded parachutes requires a lot of dedicated training.
It’s important to know your wingloading and, when buying a new parachute to make sure you choose a size that is not too different from what you are used to.
Read our blog 'Downsizing Checklist for Skydivers' for a comprehensive list on what you should be doing before you downsize
We made it super simple for you, so if you want to work out your wingloading (and how that applies to canopy type) check out our Wingloading Calculator.