Pierre Lamoigne couldn’t have known that he was making aviation sport history when in the early 1960’s he attached a parachute to his moving car and invented parasailing. Lamoigne was a parachute teacher, and the easiest method then to teach the use of a parachute was to raise the “pilot” into the air to a certain height and then untie the parachute to let the pilot float free. People often confuse this method called parascending with hang gliding. But when Lamoigne did not release the parachute and pulled the pilot along in the air behind in a high-speed vehicle, parasailing truly began.
Higher standards for parasailing were set in the 1970s when a man named Mark McCulloh made history by using the parachutes at sea. He started first by raising parachutes from the shore but then went on to design a motorized platform, then a boat to pull the parachute back to the ship. These days there is even a specially designed ship with a built-in platform for take off and landing.
The Pioneer Parachute Company started making parachutes under the protected name of “Parasail” back in the 1960s after Lamoigne’s first successes. Parasailing historically has enjoyed most of its popularity as an air and water sport, but there are now land-based parasailing competitions that are especially popular in Northern Europe and Finland. History was made again with the first international competitions being held in 2004.
Parasailing does not have to rely on competitions to be a popular sport. History shows that the thrill and excitement of being airborne has made the sport of parasailing very popular with families. But caution and good judgment should always be used, especially with the equipment and weather conditions for flying. Everyone should get training from a certified parasailing instructor before attempting a first flight.