Domina Jalbert

Domina Jalbert (1904-1991[1]) invented the ram-air inflated flexible wing often called the "Jalbert parafoil". Domina C. Jalbert.


Born in Saint-Jean-de-Matha, Quebec, Canada. Early in his life he moved to Woonsocket, Rhode Island, where he lived and worked for many years before moving to Boca Raton, Florida,[2] in his older years. While living in Woonsocket, Jalbert graduated from Woonsocket High School, and later worked as a track coach and administrator for Mount St. Charles Academy.[3]

Jalbert received a US pilots' license in 1927. In the 1930s he was active in kiting - using large kites for advertising purposes. He was hired to help protect the coastline of the western United States during war with the design and making of barrage balloons; he worked for the United States Rubber Company in Naugatuck, Connecticut, USA.[4]

He filed a patent in 1944 for a combination of a balloon with a stiffened flexible wing forming what is now known as a "kytoon".

In 1957, Jalbert invented the ram-air airfoil and began testing and formalizing the design.[5]

In January 1963 he formally confirmed his discovery and invention of the ram-air double-surfaced fully flexible airfoil that would profoundly change kiting, parachuting, skydiving, hang gliding, paragliding, sport flying, power kiting, and more. All parafoils today owe their roots to Domina Jalbert's invention.

In 1964, he filed a patent titled "Multi-cell Wing Type Aerial Device" This would become key to paragliding, sky diving, powered paragliding, landboarding, kite surfing and cargo-ship kite tugging.[6]

In 1971, Jalbert's dream of creating a ram-air parachute was realized. Working with Jalbert, Theodore Hulsizer, civilian prototype parachute manufacturer for the United States Air Force and NASA (1947-1973), made the first parafoil parachute that worked. While testing his prototype in the wind tunnel at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio, USA, Theodore realized its drag was considerably stronger than any other parachute he had tested in his 25 years of experience. He believed others' attempts ripped to shreds, because of the drag. To slow the opening of the parafoil, Theodore ran the cords through rings he designed that were slid to the top while packing the parachute. As it opened, the rings had to slide down, slowing the opening. These rings later evolved to be the slider in modern ram-air parachutes. Theodore personally made the first full-size parafoil, which worked perfectly in its first drop.[7]

Ram-air airfoil of fully flexible materials

Domina Jalbert was first to teach of the robust airfoil formed by the ram-air principle. Every contemporary ram-air airfoil sport and utility wing began with Domina Jalbert's invention. When the parafoil is used as a gliding parachute, thus opening after the payload or human has been in free-fall, the opening of the parafoil can be very fast; the fast opening and the consequential related shock has to be damped; devices invented by others are used to slow down the opening of the parafoil. One such invention is the slider. When the parafoil is used in hang gliding as a paraglider, the parafoil is kited open before the human leaves the ground; in such cases a slider is not necessary.[8]

Patents filed

Domina Jalbert invented his filed-for January 10, 1963 US Patent 3131894 the Parafoil which had sectioned cells in an aerofoil shape; an open leading edge and a closed trailing edge, inflated by passage through the air – the ram-air design.[9]

See also


  1. Aerovision Archived September 3, 2011, at the Wayback Machine
  2. "They're Not Just Toys Anymore - Kites Go Scientific". The Popular Science Monthly. Popular Science Pub. Co. 200 (3): 163. January–June 1972.
  3. "Inductee Details - Domina C. Jalbert".
  4. Domina Jalbert: Brother of the Wind
  5. "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2008-04-09. Retrieved 2008-03-27.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link) Tal Streeter in his notes towards his book about Domina Jalbert.
  6. The Modern Day Leonardo da Vinci Archived January 4, 2013, at WindMueller Aerology Lab
  7. Theodore Hulsizer's prototype parachutes.
  8. Hopkins, Ellen; Bledsoe, Glen (2001). The Golden Knights: The U.S. Army Parachute Team. Capstone. p. 21. ISBN 9780736807753.
  9. "History of Paragliding". Archived from the original on 2009-09-13. Retrieved 2008-10-06.
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