Parasail Safety Council

Main Office The Clayton & McCulloh Office Building 1065 Maitland Center Commons Blvd. Maitland, FL 32751 Telephone with Voicemail:  (407) 494-6490   ©   1998-2013  Mark McCulloh - All Rights Reserved  
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Welcome to the  Parasail Safety Council Website
The worlds premiere source for parasail information
Current Parasail Operations Data:  There are approximately (242) commercial parasail concessions in the US and its territories operating (627+) commercial parasail tow vessels. Ninety eight (95%) percent of all parasail fatalities result from the parasailors(s) inability to escape/evacuate from a harness passenger support system following an unplanned waterlanding in high winds. Approximately 3 to 5 million people enjoy the sport of parasailing each year Effectively there are no federal regulations governing parasailing operations, equipment inspection and replacement or standards
Harness            Gondola
Q. Why doesn't the Parasail Safety Council accident data match the governments data?    A. Parasail accident data from a single government source, who has specific reporting guidelines, does not accurately reflect the total number of occurrences.  In fact the majority of accidents over the past thirty years went unreported for many reasons.  Some didn't meet the government's reporting requirements, while many others were inadvertently or intentionally not reported.   The lack of reporting has created government statistics which mislead the public and others seeking accurate risk assessment like hotels, insurance underwriters, state and federal risk managers.  It has also created a false sense of security that parasailing is safe as operated with the harness system when the scientific and investigative data reveals a different conclusion. 
An in-depth study looks at the composition of fatal parasail accidents. 2013  by Mark McCulloh,   The most perilous accidents begin as a tow line separation from the towing vessel in high winds resulting in an unplanned water landing. Why are they perilous?   To answer that question, one must understand the role of  the “passenger support systems” and  “parasail canopy size” selections;  and the dynamics involved in those choices.  First, the parasail canopy has the unique ability to create a powerful lifting force when towed. This attribute makes the entire sport of parasailing possible, but it also has its down side.  The parasail canopy cares little whether its towing people through the air or water.  A parasail canopy separated from its tow line can remain inflated by the wind towing its passenger through the water and placing them in harm's way.  When selecting a parasail canopy size operators who use the harness system, are considering only the canopy's ability to lift the passenger(s) and their ability to control or guide it during the ride; they do not consider the  consequences as a result of towline failure in high winds.   During the sports infancy in the 1970s and early 80’s,  the 24 and 26’ foot canopy was  the largest canopy recommended for the body harness because it would deflate during a line separation / waterlanding in high winds and rough ocean conditions.  Considering that few operators still use the smaller (safer) canopies today since increasing the harness passenger payload,  it is safe to say that the original body harness was never designed to be operated with multiple passenger payloads and a parasail that was unable to self-deflate during and emergency waterlandings during a line separation / waterlanding in high winds and rough ocean conditions.  This same threat is what inspired the introduction of the multi-passenger Gondola in 1985. The Gondola was the answer to emergency waterlandings in high winds and rough ocean conditions by allowing the parasailors to easily evacuate with minimal instructions and without physical restraints.  Because of these new design safety features, it was safe to use larger parasails and increased ocean conditions.  
Operational Comparisons                                                           Gondola            Harness                                                                                                  Minimum / Maximum Parasailors Weight Easy To Operate - Just sit and go! Turn Around Time Efficiency  Custom Graphics and Colors Unequal Passenger Weight Capability Night Parasailing w/ Neon Lighting 100% Safety record     Distinctive Brand Recognition Overall Safety Comparisons  Built-in Flotation Bodily Protection during flight deck landings Serious Injuries caused during deck landings   Bodily Protection during unforeseen onshore landings               Serious Injuries or Death during on-shore landings   Bodily Protection during high speed waterlandings               Can prevent drowning during an emergency waterlandings Safe Evacuation during emergency waterlandings   Serious Injuries caused by whiplash during flight Safety Study completed by Independent Testing Facility Vetted in both State and Federal Courts
0 - 850lbs           90 - 400lbs  Yes                     No 15 secs              2 mins     Yes                     No Yes                     Yes Yes                     No Yes                     No Yes                     No Yes                     No Yes                     No No                      Yes Yes                     No No                      Yes Yes                     No Yes                     No Yes                     No No                      Yes   Yes                     No Yes                     No
Why are some Parasailing Accidents Fatal?
Parasail Accident Data
       Passenger Support System Safety and Performance Comparisons
A scientific safety study was performed by Failure Analysis of Exponent Engineering Inc., a world renown engineering consultancy firm.  In 1988, a safety study was performed on the Gondola under the direction of  Dr. Robert Kadlec Ph.D.,P.E. a leading Aeronautical  Engineer who concluded  that the "Gondola" sufficiently secures parasailor(s) while in flight "even if unconscious" without the need for  additional restraints which would prevent a safe evacuation during emergency water  landings".  The findings by Kadlec and his team together with historical flight data establishes that the Gondola was safe for its particular use, and is a “Liability Free” product.  
       Gondola Passenger Support System Safety Study 
Hidden Dangers of Harness Parasailing BODY HARNESS SYSTEM  GONDOLA SYSTEM ESTIMATED TOTAL NUMBER OF RIDES TO DATE 141 Million 29 Million Minor Injuries - No Hospitalization Required 1365 8 Serious Injuries - Requiring Hospitalization 520 2 Total Fatalites   79 0 Fatalites - Equipment Failure 12 0 Fatalites - Inability to escape passenger support   61 0 Unknown 6 0 PARASAIL INDUSTRY ACCIDENT STATISTICS
Disclaimer:  The accident data is compiled from numerous sources, such as; local, state and federal government accident reports, interviews, insurance claims, civil lawsuits, operators and industry insiders; as well as, accident investigations.  Having multiple sources of data may compensate for an industry which is not regulated by any one single entity for general informational purposes.   However, the  sources, completeness or reliability of said accident data should not be relied as accurate.