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Skydiving Free Fall – What’s It Like?

Why Skydive

Wisconsin Skydiving Center Posted by: Wisconsin Skydiving Center 5 years ago

What Is a Free fall, anyway?

If you want to split hairs about this, skydiving free fall is not actually free fall. Nowhere close, actually! There are two scientific ways to look at it: Newtonian physics and General Relativity. Both agree that true free fall involves an object with no other forces (except, in Newtonian physics, gravity) acting on it. That means that — get this — the moon is in free fall. 

That said: scientists aren’t the only folks who like to use such a cool term. In skydiving, “free fall” refers to the act of falling through the atmosphere without a deployed parachute. We don’t experience full weightlessness because of aerodynamic drag (more on that later). But for us, it’s close enough.

How Long Does FREEFALL Last?

In short: skydiving free fall time starts the moment you leave the airplane door and continues until your tandem instructor deploys your parachute.

The way we work out how long you’ll be in free fall for is based on two things:

  1. your exit altitude – how high you are when you jump (typically just about 10,000 feet above the ground)
  2. your free fall speed – the rate at which you’re falling (typically just about 120 miles an hour for a tandem pair)

The answer to “how fast do you fall when skydiving tandem” varies from person to person. It depends on the combined weight of both student and instructor (heavier = faster), the body position of the pair (more compact = faster), and even the temperature and humidity on the day of the jump (hotter and wetter = faster).

From the airplane door to the opening of the parachute (or “canopy,” if you want to sound like a stone-cold skydiving pro), you’re looking at somewhere between 45 to 60 seconds of adrenaline-fueled sweetness. That’s plenty of time to check out the Wisconsin landscape spread out around you, gawk at some clouds, and flap around your flappiest free fall face. And — if you’ve had the clever foresight to arrange for a video of your jump — to rambunctiously geek the camera.

Skydiving free fall as tandem

What Is the Skydiving Free fall Experience Like?

The skydiving free fall experience is – as you can probably intuit from the scientific word we’ve so brazenly nicked – is nothing short of totally and completely free.

Sure, it’s overwhelming at first, but after a second or two, your hard-won awareness will return. In a flash, you’ll begin to understand how your body can actually fly the forces of freefall. You’ll look around you. You’ll recognize elements of the terrain below. You may not believe this now, but hear us out: just a few short seconds into the one-minute freefall, you’ll relax! (And wouldn’t you know it – the experience is therapeutic as well.)

When you do your first skydive, you’re going to be dumbstruck by the very idea of time. Trust us on this one. Skydiving free fall has the kinda-otherworldly feeling of lasting forever – while at the same time feeling that it’s over almost before it starts. One thing is for certain: your moments in skydiving free fall will be an experience you’re going to treasure for always.

Want to find out how free fall actually feels? Read up about tandem skydiving with us! (And don’t hesitate to get in touch with us if we can answer any more chin-strumming questions for you. We love to talk to curious students!)

Relaxed tandem student during skydiving free fall.