Freefall occurs in the space between exiting the plane and deploying the parachute. The moment it begins ish gets really real and an unprecedented mix of calm, shock, and overwhelming excitement rushes through your body. This is why we’re addicted to skydiving, and we get so stoked when we meet tandem students who are about to experience it all for the first time! A lot of newcomers to the sport are surprised to learn how long freefall is, or maybe how short it is. But trust us when we say, it is plenty of time and you will savor every single unforgettable second of it. So, let’s get into some of the questions we often get about jumping out of a perfectly good airplane, including how long does a skydive last, how long does freefall last, and just how fast do you fall when skydiving?
The full skydiving experience encompasses far more than just the freefall. It involves several stages beforehand in order to prepare for the greatest adventure of your lifetime! And don’t forget about the awe-inspiring views and peaceful drift of floating under your very own colorful canopy.
How long does a tandem skydive last? The entire process from check-in to landing can last anywhere from a couple of hours to all day, it all depends on the weather and its effect on business operations on the day of your skydive. Be prepared to be at the dropzone for 4 to 6 hours, just to be on the safe side.
Ahead of your jump, you’ll fill out required paperwork, make final payments if necessary, meet your certified USPA skydiving instructor, attend a brief training session, and get geared up! You may have some time in the hangar while waiting for your turn to board the airplane. Use this time to take in all the sights and sounds of the dropzone, observe all of the smiling faces of fellow happy skydivers around you, and feel free to ask questions.
In terms of actually skydiving, you can expect the entire process to take around 15 to 20 minutes between boarding the aircraft to planting your feet back down on solid ground. This includes your plane ride to altitude, your adrenaline-pumping airplane exit, your thrilling freefall through the big blue sky, your 5-minute canopy ride, and your landing. If that seems too quick now, know that it just might be the most incredible 20 minutes of your whole life when you jump – soak it all in!
OK, let’s get into the meat of the matter: how long does it take to fall from skydiving? The duration of your skydiving freefall largely depends on the altitude from which you jump as well as your body position, body weight, and even the weather conditions on jump day. On average, you fall about 200 feet per second during a skydive, making altitude the most significant freefall time determinant.
Skydiving usually occurs between 8,000 and 18,000 feet, with an exit altitude average of 10,000 feet. The altitude you’ll jump from is set by the skydiving center you decide to jump at – so be sure to research this information before you make a booking. So, how high do you skydive from? At Skydive Orange, we jump from 13,500 feet, giving you big bang for your buck. Woohoo!
How long is skydiving from different altitudes? So glad you asked:
These might seem extremely short at first glance, but we promise you that it will be the longest (and most phenomenal) minute of your life!
And now the question with an answer that raises the most eyebrows: how fast do skydivers fall?
Freefall speeds are dependent on a few factors, most notably total weight and body position. You are already traveling super fast and in a forward motion in the airplane, so when you jump out you fall in a gradual curve until terminal velocity is reached. This is why skydiving doesn’t feel like a roller coaster or like you’re falling at all, more like laying on a bed of wind! Terminal velocity is the fastest speed you’ll reach during freefall, and once you get there it’s straight up amazing.
Terminal velocity for a skydiver flying in a stable belly-to-earth body position usually rests around 120 mph for most humans. An individual’s terminal velocity can be calculated by using total weight, density, surface area, air resistance, and gravity. You can see how changing your surface area, or body position, can alter your terminal velocity pretty significantly. For example, a skydiver flying in a stable head-down position can reach speeds upwards of 150 to 180 mph!
According to the Guinness World Records, the fastest freefall achieved by a male skydiver was set by German Marco Hepp on October 22, 2022 in Eloy, Arizona – he was going a mind-blowing 329.18 mph! Just two days later in Eloy, Natisha Dingle of Australia set the female record at 305.70 mph! Skydivers are pretty awesome, no?!
Jumping from the stratosphere takes freefall speeds to other-worldly levels. There are three standout names in this arena, though none exited from an airplane so they exist in a different arena from the speed skydivers. In 1960, American Joe Kittenger jumped from 102,800 feet and reached speeds in excess of 600 mph. In 2012, Felix Baumgartner of Austria jumped from 127,852 feet and hit a maximum freefall speed of 843.6 mph (Mach 1.25)! Just two years later, American Google Executive Alan Eustace jumped from a jaw-dropping 135,889 feet and reached a speed of 822 mph. Unfathomable!
Ready to take a leap of your own? Book your skydiving adventure with Virginia’s premier drop zone, Skydive Orange. Blue skies!
The largest tandem skydiving center near Northern Virginia, Washington D.C. and Maryland.