First-time skydivers are understandably nervous about what it feels like to skydive. This is part of the thrill and the anticipation of looking forward to one of the world’s most exhilarating activities. One of the first questions that beginners to the sport ask is ‘how fast do you fall skydiving?’ Let’s start by looking at the science.
On average, how fast do you fall skydiving?
Average is a good expression to use, as each body size and mass is different and therefore there is no set answer as to how fast do you fall skydiving. However, the approximate answer is 120mph in freefall.
The main forces involved in the speed of skydiving are terminal velocity and gravity. Terminal velocity is the highest velocity attained by a falling object as it travels through the air. When a person freefalls, they will reach zero acceleration due to the air resistance which acts as an opposing force to gravity. Eventually, the upward force balances out the person’s body weight and from that point they will stop accelerating. Instead they will travel at a constant speed known as terminal velocity until they reaches the ground.
There are many factors which determine the terminal velocity of an object. When it comes to skydivers, some of the variables include the size, weight and shape of the person who is freefalling. As you might expect, a larger and more solid person will fall faster than a skinny, lighter person.
However, the position of the skydiver will also affect the speed at which they fall. If a person dives in the traditional ‘belly down’ position, then they are exposing their maximum surface area to the ground. Consequently they will travel at a slower speed than someone who has less surface area facing the ground. More experienced skydivers who would like to fall at greater speeds might choose the ‘head down’ or the ‘sit fly’ position which allow them to achieve falling speeds of up to 200mph.
How fast do you acccelerate?
The first moments when you exit the plane are all about building up speed. It will take you about twelve seconds to reach a maximum speed. After this you will fall about 1,000 feet every five seconds until you open up your parachute when you will slow down to approximately 1,000 feet every minute.
What does skydiving feel like?
Many skydivers are understandably nervous on their first jump, but this is part of the buzz. The most nerve-wracking part is usually the plane journey up there. On a serious note, this is why your medical history and fitness levels need to be assessed before you skydive to make sure that you will be able to handle such an adventurous activity.
Skydiving is a personal journey and feels different for each participant, although many liken freefalling to flying. Other common feelings do exist between skydivers of all levels.
Loss of hearing
When you’re travelling at such high speeds at altitude, your ear drums are likely to pop and make it hard to hear. Even if you could hear, then it is incredibly noisy up there and you wouldn’t be able to hold a conversation. If you scream particularly loudly then a camera pointed at you would probably be able to pick something up on the audio.
If you have long hair then it is vital that you secure it in either a long ponytail or by tucking it into the frap hat you are wearing as part of your skydive. As you might expect, if you leave long hair free flowing during skydiving it will get everywhere. Your own vision and that of your instructor in a tandem dive may become obscured, which could cause problems with the deployment of your parachute as well as preventing you from enjoying the beautiful scenery beneath.
Will I be able to breathe during a skydive?
Some beginners report that they find it difficult to breathe during a skydive, but this is often because they have held their breath as they’re jumping out of the aircraft and forget to let it go. Breathing should be simple both in freefall and under the canopy. It is also highly unlikely that you will black out during a skydive as your body wants your brain to remain conscious in heightened circumstances, no matter how alert or frightened you are.
We’d love to hear about your beginner experiences – let us know in the comments below how your first time skydive felt and what you loved most about it.