How Fast & Long Do You Fall When Tandem Skydiving?
Wednesday, October 21, 2020
How Fast Do You Fall When Skydiving?
If you want the short answer: really, really fast. About 120 mph (200 kph)!
Now, if you’ve got a thirst for knowledge as great as your need for speed, we’d love to get nerdy and give you the nitty-gritty details of exactly how fast you will fall when tandem skydiving. Be prepared, it’s going to take a bit of patience on your part and a willingness to revisit a bit of physics knowledge we bet you thought you would never need.
How Fast Is Freefall?
For a tandem skydiver, the fastest part of your skydiving experience is the freefall. As you may have guessed, freefall is the time between when you exit the airplane and when you deploy your parachute. During this time, you are falling free, but not necessarily freefalling! The reason is semantics: technically, the physics definition of freefall is the downward movement of an object under the force of gravity alone.
As a tandem pair falls, the force of gravity acts upon them but so does something else. Though, it may seem like the air is “empty,” it is composed of many invisible air molecules. As the tandem skydiving pair falls, they collide with these particles, and the air particles are pushed aside much like a swimmer pushing his or her way through the water. The collision with these air particles creates air resistance (or drag) and prevents the falling object from infinitely increasing speed. So, your ultimate speed has to do with something called terminal velocity.
What Is Terminal Velocity?
So, how fast do you fall when skydiving? In part, this will depend upon the amount of air resistance you encounter. By definition, terminal velocity is a constant speed which is reached when the falling object is met with enough resistance to prevent further acceleration. Terminal velocity is, then, the fastest speed you will reach on your skydive; this is usually around 120 mph.
Do you feel your stomach drop when you skydive?
The cool thing about your skydiving freefall is that it doesn’t feel like falling, so you typically won’t get that stomach drop feeling. Though you are reaching terminal velocity at a speed of 120 mph, because of the air resistance you encounter, it will feel more akin to floating than falling. Additionally, the airplane you will be riding in prior to your skydive will be moving at speeds around 100 mph. Usually, the stomach drop feeling can be attributed to extreme changes in speed. However, the change in speed from your plane ride to freefall is not extreme enough to cause much of a stomach drop. Typically, upon initially exiting the airplane at 10,000 feet you will feel a bit of a speed increase, as it will take around 5-10 seconds for you to reach terminal velocity. But you won’t experience a stomach drop like on a roller coaster.
How long do you fall when skydiving?
The amount of time you fall when skydiving is going to depend on two things: how long it takes you to reach terminal velocity and the altitude you jump from. At Skydive St. Louis, you will make your jump from 10,000 feet which is nearly two miles above the earth. From this height, you will fall for 45 seconds.