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I don't completely understand why the strings on paraglider/paramotors (connecting the vehicle/person to the parafoil) are so long. Couldn't they be made shorter to reduce the amount of space used? It just seems like an unnecessary feature. Sorry if I'm missing something elementary.

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    $\begingroup$ The chute isn't a rigid shape, in order for it to keep the curve that it needs, the paramotor needs to be a certain distance from the chute itself. If you shortened up the cords, the shape of the chute would be much more like an upside down U. $\endgroup$ – Ron Beyer Oct 26 '16 at 2:08
  • $\begingroup$ @RonBeyer Couldn't a parafoil be reinforced by some sort of lightweight plastic structure (just a possible example) to keep it straight so shorter cords would suffice? Or am I missing something? Thanks again! $\endgroup$ – bob the pie Oct 26 '16 at 4:12
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    $\begingroup$ When you are asking "why isn't it done differently", it helps to explain what problem you are trying to solve. Paragliders have long cords. So what? $\endgroup$ – Simon Oct 26 '16 at 6:24
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    $\begingroup$ @bobthepie now you are describing a hang glider. $\endgroup$ – ratchet freak Oct 26 '16 at 11:01
  • $\begingroup$ @ratchetfreak In a way, but it would still use a parafoil. If I understand correctly, the wings on hang gliders aren't inflated like parafoils, right? $\endgroup$ – bob the pie Oct 27 '16 at 2:12
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The answer to this is mechanical leverage.

For this, you must understand that the center of mass for a paramotor is usually just above the pilot's head, and that the center of lift is more upwards.

enter image description here

The shorter the strings on a paramotor, the harder that it is to climb, because the length of the effort arm is reduced, requiring a greater power to tilt the paramotor into a climb.

As the motor power increases, you don't actually go much faster. You tip backward, and maintain speed. This is what helps you climb, essentially comboing the wing with the elevator.

The long strings allow for slower, more efficient flight by increasing leverage. This is the same mechanics that are used in most trainer crafts (outside the military) to allow the learner a long, slow flight.

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