On Hilton Head Island, water sports can be found all over from Shelter Cove to Sea Pines.
But what most people don’t know is the unlikely roots of such a fun activity.
“Most people don’t actually know that parasailing was invented by the French military,” said Doug Roth, the owner and operator of Sky Pirate Watersports on Hilton Head Island.
Pierre-Marcel Lemoigne invented the first ascending glide parachute for the French military, as an exercise in 1961. This let parachuters train at a lower altitude before officially parachuting outside of a plane.
“We let the line out and you gradually float up from the back of the boat,” said Caitlin Hubach, manager of H2O Water Sports. “It doesn’t entail much work on your part.”
Parasailing as a water sport didn’t pick up until the late 1970s.
At that time the winch boat – the boat that pulls the parachute and flier while it sails – appeared. Today, parasailing has almost become a family vacation tradition. For some, their vacation is not complete without a flight in the sky.
“It’s great because you have that time on the boat together,” said Hubach. “You’re out there enjoying a beautiful day seeing dolphins and all the other beautiful wildlife around us.”
With breathtaking views and amazing wildlife, Hilton Head Island has become a prime tourist spot, and therefore, a prime water sport hub.
“We used to be able to fly up to 1,500 feet,” said Roth. “But because the Federal Aviation Administration views us as kites and we flew within airplane flight patterns, we dropped it down and only use a 500-foot rope.”
Sky Pirate imposes weight restrictions on parasailing to ensure customers have a safe and smooth flight.
One, two and three-person options are available at several water sport companies. Weight restrictions allow for a combined 450 pounds.
“The captain and the mate always have safety in mind,” said Hubach. “So listening and paying attention and doing what they say will make it the best, most fun ride they can have.”
Sky Pirate Parasail and H20 Sports both offer parasailing on Hilton Head Island. H20 Sports is located at the Harbour Town Marina, 149 Lighthouse Rd., and Sky Pirate Watersports is on Broad Creek, off of Marshland Road at 18 Simmons Rd. For more information about Sky Pirate Parasail, call (843) 842-2566 or visit their website. For more information about H20 Sports, call (877) 290-4386 or visit their website.