What Is Parasailing?
Most of us think of using a parachute to float down from the sky safely to the Earth. Well, parasailing does the opposite.
Here’s a video showing parasailing in action in sunny Mexico, 2016.
As you can see from the above video, to get airborne, you got to attach yourself to a harness that is attached to a very large parachute or parasail. Then your harness is attached to a towing vehicle i.e. a fast boat.
You are usually standing on the beach with a crowd gathered waiting for your daredevil show to begin. The boat takes off and up you go! The longer the tow rope, the higher you’ll go.
You don’t even have to worry about steering. Actually, once you get up there, you’re basically along for the ride. Depending on where the boat goes, you soar the skies like an eagle.
We should note – there is another sport called “paragliding”, which is not the same as parasailing.
When the parasailing “ride” is over, the boat motors close to the beach and slows down, and down you come. You step onto the beach, unharness yourself and the show is over.
Who Invented Parasailing?
Parasailing (also known as parascending and parakiting) has been around for years – maybe longer than you’d think.
Pierre-Marcel Lemoigne was a French engineer who invented the parasail in 1961, and the purpose was to assist parachutists with training. He modified a para-commander parachute and called it the “ascending gliding parachute”.
Lemoigne founded the Aeronautical Training Service where he introduced the parasail and, before long, parasailing caught on as more of a recreational .
He sold his idea to an American company in 1962 called “The Pioneer Parachute Company” in Connecticut. They came up with the name, “parasailing”.
Today this company is one of the leading providers of skydiving and military parachutes in the world.
In the mid 60’s, the US military used the parasail for many functions such as rescue missions. It wasn’t until 1969, when parasailing became a sport.
Parasailing first began over land when the tow vehicle had 4 wheels. Soon after someone decided to use a boat as the tow vehicle and now people could soar like a bird over the water. The beach resorts in Mexico and the Caribbean began to attract thrill seekers with a 50 foot tow charging only $5 a ride.
Check out this “helmet cam” view of parasailing. You’ll either love it or…not. 🙂
Parasailing wasn’t all fun and thrills, as the sport was evolving. It became very dangerous as you might have imagined, especially if the rider had no “flying” experience, and also considering some of the early design modifications along the way.
Rules were made by The National Transportation Safety Board around the world and the sport died off for some time.
But today countries like Finland and Northern Europe are famous in land-based parasailing. Almost every beach in Mexico makes the sport available to willing tourist. New groups have made this sport into a family hobby.
Parasailing is alive and well and once you experience the exhilaration, you might just get hooked!