Born in 1921 in New Jersey, David Barish is the true father of paragliding..
Incorporated in a pilot training program sponsored by the U.S. government David Barish started his air life in 1939. Successively airline pilot, fighter pilot, instructor, test pilot, he also became an aeronautical engineer.
In the 50s he worked as a consultant for the U.S. Air Force and NASA on the design of parachutes.
In 1955 he developed the Vortex Ring, a parachute consisting of four flexible wings rotating around an axis which is still used by the U.S. military.
In the early 1960s Barish seeked to develop a new parachute design to make it more manageable, lighter and able to glide.
This research culminated in 1965 with the « Barish sailwing », originally developed for NASA to bring space capsules on earth.
But the capsules weighted 5 tons and required 30 meter wingspan parachutes. He therefore created models of different sizes and tested them with his son. The sailwing wing had a dual surface, composed of three rectangular lobes which when inflated stiffened the edge.
The following year he moved to 5 lobes to improve the glide of the machine. He borrowed from the kite the under-structure lines and the idea of adjusting their size. Paragliding was born!
During the summer of 1966 he began promoting his invention in American ski resorts, but did not meet the expected success.
It was probably too early! said David Barish. At this point, slope soaring was for fun. We did not know if we could fly in thermal or dynamic. We were going downhill skimming the ground, rarely more than thirty meters in altitude. I still crashed more than once in the trees!
From 1966 and for two years in a contract with NASA, I was competing against Rogallo. He came one day to the wind tunnel to see my tests. He said nothing but looked very interested. In fact, we both built what later became known as a paraglider. The Air Force has organized a day of demonstration of air projects in California. This is where my wing thinness of 4.2 was truly appreciated for what it was. A week later, the High Command decided to abandon all projects using traditional parachutes. Sometimes they change their minds!
It will take a good twenty years before Barish could see the scope of his invention and the development of paragliding in the United States, Europe and especially Mieussy …