HOME THE HISTORY OF PARASAILING GLOSSARY OF TERMS FOR PARASAILING CONSUMER SAFETY GUIDELINES CONTACT US 1960’s 1970's 1980-1984 1985 1986-1987 1988-1989 1990-1994 1995-1999 A STUNNING Parasail 40 year HISTORY Timeline 1960’s 1970's 1980-1984 1985 1986-1987 1988-1989 1990-1994 1995-1999
1971, McCulloh took the first step to modernize commercialized parasailing by introducing a stationary parasail launching and retrieval platform as an improvement over land based and beach launch and retrievals operations with a focus on improving the safety of for the parasailor.  The basic concept of this system was to move the operations from the beach into open water whereby the launch and recovery process away form obstacles.   The parasail launching and retrieval platform was anchored offshore in an area without boat traffic and obstructions.  Participants were shuttled to the platform by a tow vessel which consisted of the driver and observer.  The platform ground crew consisted of two people that were in charge of assisting parasailors throughout the process. 1972, McCulloh added an outboard motor to the stationary parasail launching and retrieval platform to create the first motorized parasail launching and retrieval platform which significantly improved the launch and recovery of parasailor vs. the stationary platform.  Unfortunately, the motorized platform required up to five crew to operate, (2) crew on the tow boat, and (3) crew on the platform each of whom had to coordinate the launch and recovery while underway with precision.  This method was more costly to operate vs. the Stationary Platform but provided additional safety.
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About Us  1971 - Mark McCulloh’s Evolution of Modern Day Parasailing - by David Carmenito
In 1971, Mark McCulloh took the lead in parasail equipment designs and pioneered modern day commercial parasailing equipment by developing cutting edge products and setting industry standards worldwide. His journey began in the early 70's with the introduction of the world’s first offshore parasail platforms which eventually resulted in the legendary Winchboat which revolutionized parasailing and ensured the breakthrough and expansion of the commercial parasailing marketplace worldwide. With regard to the industry Accomplishments? McCulloh is credited for single handedly creating modern day parasail equipment. Parasail Equipment Inventions? His list of accomplishments speak for themselves. The World’s First: - Stationary Platform; Motorized Platform; Winchboat; Floating Harness; Hands Free Canopy Launching System; Gondola Chair; Automatic Hydraulic Winch; Self Contained Portable Parasail Launch and Recovery System; Winchboat Conversion Kit; Military Water Survival Training Winchboat: The first USCG inspected Passenger under the towing vessel ruled; Tow Line Guide; Riser Line Assembly; Milestones? McCulloh drafted, the first set of parasail operating guidelines, the only parasail expert ever qualified by the Federal District Court. His inventions and operating techniques set the standards by which the majority of operators are guided. What's most notable in this historical timeline is that McCulloh had no idea of the impact his inventions (over 20) would have once deployed into the marketplace.
About Us  1971/72 - The First Stationary & Motorized Parasail Platforms About Us  1973 - First Parasail Winchboat Design Drawing About Us  1974 - First Winchboat Patent Application
In 1973, McCulloh,  designed  the first  self-contained parasail towing vessel he called the "Winchboat". The Winchboat system was inspired in part by the safety issues of the stationary platform, and the complex operation of the motorized platform.    The original concept drawing combines the motorized parasail platform and tow vessel together to launch and recover the parasail canopy (via an inflation system) and parasailor (via a hydraulic winch) from the boats aft deck.   The goal was to overcome the accidents with the platforms, with increased safety and efficiently of the operation by using only two crew members to control the process.
In 1974, McCulloh,  began the patent application for the first  self- contained Parasail Vessel  he would later tradename "Winchboat". The Patent Application was filed in September of 1975.   This concept was inspired in part by the safety issues of the stationary platform, and the complex operation of the motorized platform. The idea was to combined the motorized parasail platform and tow vessel together to launch and recover the parasail canopy (via an inflation system) and parasailor (via a hydraulic winch) from the boats aft deck.    SUMMARY OF THE WINCHBOAT INVENTION  A principal object of the present invention is to provide a launching and retrieving apparatus that is most effective for readily, safely and effectively launching and retrieving a person partaking of the sport of parasailing. Another object of the present invention is to provide a parasail launching and retrieving apparatus that is adapted to be mounted on a vehicle such as a boat and the like wherein the equipment in its non-use condition is ready for use thereby requiring very little time and effort to strap the person on the apparatus and launch him and the parasail in a safe manner.
About Us  1975 - First Working Parasail Winchboat Prototype
In 1975, McCulloh,  formed the first parasail operations company in the US called Sun Sport Corporation of America, located in Miami, FL and  raised capital to fund the Winchboat project, patent and to construct the first experimental prototype Winchboat using the original pioneer body harness.  After months of trial and error, McCulloh’s Proof-of-Concept Winchboat was successfully tested on Biscayne Bay at Key Biscayne, Florida along the Rickenbacker causeway. 
About Us  1975 - First Recorded Parasail Accident in the USA
Mark McCulloh 
In 1975,  Mark McCulloh was asked to perform aerial acrobatics during the  intermission at the Bill Muncey Wide World Miami Invitational Hydroplane races at the Miami Marine Stadium,  the parasail boat operator lost control of the boat, sending parasailor (”Mark McCulloh”) directly into a the ABC-TV cameraman.  He was not injured and was later interviewed by Frank Gifford.  
About Us  1976 - McCulloh Granted Patent on Winchboat along with an offer to purchase
In 1976, US Patent Office granted Mark McCulloh a patent on the “Winchboat”.   McCulloh arranged a demonstration of his new Winchboat with a group high profile corporate investors; including August Busch the III "President of the Anheuser-Busch", Mr. Bernie Little "owner of the Miss Budweiser racing team", Mr. Earl Smalley "chairman of  Hertz Car Rental" and Mr. Walter Troutman the "developer of the prestigious Jockey Club" in North Miami Beach, Florida.
Bernie Little, tendered an offer on behalf of the group to purchase McCulloh’s patent outright and employ McCulloh to manage the production and operations oversight for one (1) year.  The offer was turned down after the group refused to guarantee promoting the invention under the Anheuser-Busch brand.
About Us  1975 - McCulloh’s First Parasail Accident Investigation as an Expert Witness
In 1975, Gloria R. Hardy brought the first parasail lawsuit in the US.  It was filed against Pioneer Parachute Company, the parasail canopy manufacturer to recover damages for injuries she sustained during and emergency landing.  She asserted jurisdiction under South Carolina law which she was ruled against.  Ms. Hardy appealed a ruling of the district court stating that it lacked personal jurisdiction over, Pioneer Parachute Co. and Parachutes, Inc.  They concluded that the district court had jurisdiction under both South Carolina's long-arm statute and the federal constitution.  Pioneer Parasail hired Mark McCulloh to act as there parasail expert telling the court he was the most knowledgeable person in parasail operations.   A part of the investigation included review of accident reconstruction videos and witness testimony. 
Despite what has been published to the contrary.  Brian Gaskin of Kent, England, together with a group of friends including Brian Tripp, developed the 16-gore (16 suspension lines) Parasail that would eventually replace the 24-gore modified Para Commander sold by pioneer parasail company.   In the same year, Brian Gaskin formed Waterbird Parakites and began marketing his new 16 panel design which is now utilized by the majority of commercial parasail operators around the world.  His company  Waterbird is still in operation today, producing commercial and recreational 16-gore parasails.
About Us  1976 - Brian Gaskin and Co. introduces a 16 Panel Canopy About Us  1977 First Recorded Winchboat Accident
In 1977, during a demonstration of McCulloh’s Parasail Winchboat with local TV and print media in St. Petersburg Beach, Florida. The engine seized during the demo flight and the parasailor descended into the water.  Although, the passenger was wearing a life jacket and body harness  equipped with a quick disconnect, she panicked and failed to release herself.  To complicate matters, the parasail canopy started to sink due to strong currents.  Unable to keep her head above the water, even with a life jacket, she had to be rescued by cutting the parasail lines.  As a result of this accident, McCulloh’s 1976 investors withdrew their offer.
About Us  1978 - First Commercial Winchboat Parasail Operation
In 1978, McCulloh operated the first parasail concession in USA iin an around Miami      
About Us  1979 - Military Contract Solicitation Proposal
In 1979, The US Air Force in Homestead FL., requested that McCulloh submit a bid proposal to replace their aging motorized parasail launch platform system with his new Winchboat.  At the time, the Water Survival School was operated by the US Air Force even though instructors were Navy personnel.  This motorized “launch only” platform system introduced in the early 70’s assisted in the launch of trainees aloft by a second vessel to a pre-determined altitude where they disconnected themselves from the parasail using a quick release system.  The concept was to free fall into the water, then use their training skills to escape from the parasail and survive in a mock water landing in high winds and rough seas.
This was McCulloh’s first parasail accident investigation and the beginning of a his long career as an expert witness. 
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Parasail Safety Council

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