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“For once you have tasted flight, you will walk the earth with your eyes turned skywards, for there you have been and there you will long to return.” – Leonardo da Vinci
Leonardo sure did say it best, but in other words: once you’ve made a skydive, you’re going to be in the air a lot. You’re constantly going to be spending time up there in your daydreams and in your plans. But–if you’re curious about how long a skydive lasts–we can help you out with some information.
The first airtime you’ll experience during the course of a tandem skydive is going to be in the comfortable belly of our stalwart aircraft. Because all of this will be very new to you, you can expect to feel a lot of butterflies in your stomach on that ride to altitude. You’ll have about twenty minutes to look out at the clouds and the landscape around you, to be mindful of your breathing and to listen to your tandem instructor’s guidance.
Many first time skydivers wonder how long you freefall in skydiving. Unfortunately, freefall doesn’t last forever. After all: when you reach terminal velocity you’re moving at about 120 miles per hour! From the breathtaking exit to the parachute opening, you can expect to spend about a minute hurtling through the sky.
That minute, however, won’t feel like a minute.
This is one of the most powerful magics of skydiving–that the time we spend up there exists in a dimension all its own. That minute will feel like ten minutes, and it’ll feel like ten seconds, all at once. You really have to feel it to believe it–and if you think you can describe it better, we’re all ears!
We call our parachutes “canopies.” Beautiful word, no? Perhaps the nomenclature developed that way because we’re so unwilling to use a clunky word like “parachute” to describe the swooshy, graceful, pirouetting journey from the opening altitude to the landing area. (Insider tip: You will never hear the contraction “chute” on a dropzone. Ever-ever.)
For about five minutes, you’ll enjoy the sweet, swirling descent of an expertly piloted canopy as you and your tandem instructor make your way down. (If you want to, you’ll even be able to take the reins for a delicious few moments.) You’ll listen to the relative wind whistling through the lines, feel the gentle tug of centrifugal force in a spiraling turn or two, and watch the world blossom up beneath you as you re-enter the “bowl” of your day-to-day perception of the terrain around you. It’s dazzling.
So: how long does a skydive last, you ask? Well: I’ll leave you with this quote from BBC broadcaster and psychology writer Claudia Hammond, who sums it up beautifully.
“We will never have total control over this extraordinary dimension. Time will warp and confuse and baffle and entertain however much we learn about its capacities. But the more we learn, the more we can shape it to our will and destiny. We can slow it down or speed it up. We can hold on to the past more securely and predict the future more accurately. Mental time-travel is one of the greatest gifts of the mind. It makes us human, and it makes us special.”