Point Break

Skydiving In Hollywood vs Real Life

Friday, June 30, 2023

Skydivers have a love-hate relationship with the cinematographers of Hollywood. On one hand, we’re super grateful for the spotlight being shown on our awesome sport. On the other hand, the movies can depict skydiving in an incredibly inaccurate light and it’s a bit off-putting – we want the general public to know how it really is! In the end, if the movies inspire just one person to do a full send from a perfectly good airplane, it was worth it. Let’s take a gander at some well-known scenes of skydiving in Hollywood and the differences we can spot from the real deal. 

Point Break

The Point Break skydive scene is the ultimate cult classic of the 90s. Since we’re in an era where 20-year-olds were born in 2003, here’s a breakdown of the film: an FBI agent (Keanu Reeves) goes undercover to sting a bunch of surfers who may or may not be bank robbers. The leader of their group is none other than Patrick Swayze! The infamous skydiving scene, where Reeves follows Swayze out of the plane without a parachute, gave the sport an influx of publicity. 

Skydivers have jumped without a parachute, but is it commonplace? Heck no. Real-life rules and Hollywood ideologies couldn’t be more different. Skydivers jump with not one but two parachutes on every skydive. So, flinging yourself from an airplane with no parachute? To quote Donnie Brasco: fuhgeddaboudit.  

In the film, the skydiving scene lasts about 90 seconds, which is gravitationally impossible considering the pair leap out around 4,000 feet. Once terminal velocity is reached in real life, a skydiver will fall about 5 seconds per 1,000 feet. This gives them about 5 to 10 seconds to deploy their main parachute, not a minute and a half – don’t we wish! 

In the newer version of Point Break filmed in 2015, there’s an insanely intense wingsuiting scene that even had seasoned skydivers biting their nails. The scene, filmed at a BASE wingsuit mecca called The Crack, is 100% real. We would like to note that BASE jumping is an entirely different animal than your typical skydive, and carries a much higher risk. The athletes that starred in this scene have thousands of wingsuit jumps, BASE jumps, and almost 20,000 combined skydives. 


Mission: Impossible – Fallout

Skydiving features took a bit of a hiatus but came back stronger than ever in 2018 with the film Mission: Impossible – Fallout. In the film, Tom Cruise and his team end up embarking on a HALO jump to help their mission succeed. 

What is a HALO jump? HALO stands for High Altitude, Low Opening. A typical skydive where freefall is involved is anywhere from 10,000 to 14,500 feet. While a HALO jump is technically any skydive completed from 15,000+ feet, it can go up to 30,000+ feet – WILD. 

Tom Cruise has nailed every skydive scene he’s ever done. Aside from the part where an oxygen tank is taken from one person and successfully attached to another during the freefall portion of this movie, the rest of it is factually correct – unlike the skydiving scene in Deadpool 2. Cruise also stars in Mission Impossible: Dead Reckoning which will be released in part THIS YEAR. Check out the jaw-dropping stunt that is bound to break the big screen.

How Do People Film Skydive Scenes? 

With extreme skill. Skydiving videographers are tasked with focusing on the skydive and getting the perfect shot. Videographers have to focus on altitude, stability, lighting (where’s the sun!?), and the functionality of their camera(s). 

While tandem videographers have to chase after a predictable object (the tandem pair), videographers hired by Hollywood have to be ready for the unpredictability of who they’re filming; rather than being belly-to-earth like a tandem, these actors could be flying all over the place! 

Skydiving scenes in movies allow our industry’s videographers to shine. While the camera crew for a film may know the ins and outs of shooting on the ground, the chances they know about filming while falling is slim to none. It’s common for Hollywood to hire awesome videographers from our very own skydiving community to help them get the perfect take. 

Why Planes Make All the Difference | Skydive Orange

Breaking Down The Myth: Can You Talk During Freefall?

Absolutely … not. When jumping from a primarily stationary object, like a hot air balloon, it’s possible to speak and be heard for the first few seconds of the skydive, because the wind rushing past isn’t at full velocity. Once terminal velocity is reached and the air swallows the words, skydivers can only communicate with their hands. *A tip we have, if you have trouble catching your breath during freefall, is to scream! Although no one will hear you, the excess of air pushed out will force you to take a big gulp back in. 

Ready to take the leap and show Hollywood what real skydiving is all about? Book your first jump today!


Kellen James Lynn Skydive Orange AFF Student

Kellen James Lynn – Arlington, VA

Arlington, VA

The instructors in the AFF program are on par with any top-tier coaches in any sports discipline. They do very well at breaking down and teaching skill-sets and instilling the confidence needed to execute a dive successfully.

The largest tandem skydiving center near Northern Virginia, Washington D.C. and Maryland.

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