How Long Do You Freefall When Skydiving?

On average, you fall 200 feet per second during a skydive. From 10,000 feet, this means you’ll be in freefall for approximately 30 seconds. From 14,000 feet, you’ll fall for 60 seconds. From 18,000 feet, it’s about 90 seconds. The longest recorded freefall was over 4 minutes by Joe Kittinger, who jumped from 102,000 feet in the 1960s.

How We Calculate Time In Freefall

The amount of time you spend in freefall is quite simple to calculate. On average, it takes one second to fall 200 feet.

That said, it does take a bit of time to accelerate up to what’s called your ‘terminal velocity’. This is the fastest speed you’ll fall at during your jump. It’s typically around 120mph. You’ll reach this speed a few seconds into your jump, so for those few moments straight out the door, you’ll be falling a bit more slowly and therefore covering less distance.

We usually estimate around 10 seconds for the first 1,000 feet, then 5 seconds for each 1,000 feet after that.

How Long Does It Take To Skydive From Different Altitudes?

halo tandem student in freefall at skydive orange

Skydivers usually jump from 10,000 to 14,000 feet up – that’s around 2 miles! Pretty high, right?

From 10,000 feet, you’ll be in freefall for around 30 seconds. From 14,000 feet, it’s more like 60 seconds.

Here at Skydive Orange, we offer one of the highest tandem skydives in the region. Our HALO (high altitude low opening) jumps are made from 17,500 feet. On a HALO jump, you’ll get around 85 seconds in freefall – that’s nearly a minute and a half of pure awesomeness!

Why Does Freefall Time Matter?

Freefall is awesome! There really aren’t words to describe that moment when you leave the aircraft and start falling through the air. You’ll forget all your worries, all your stress, and all that’s left in its place is a feeling of pure bliss. There’s nothing like it!

Something people don’t realize about freefall is just how much we can do when we’re there. Using the basic principles of aerodynamics, we can move around the sky. By tilting one arm down and the other up, we can turn out bodies around our center. By putting our legs straight out, we can propel ourselves forward.

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You may have seen competitive skydivers building formations together in the sky or flying at different orientations like a seated position or even upside down. All of this – and more – is possible in freefall. Freefall is basically our playground! That’s another reason why we love it so much.

How long do you freefall when skydiving? At Skydive Orange, that decision is entirely up to you! View skydiving prices for all of our skydiving altitudes and book your skydive today. We can’t wait to show you just how amazing freefall feels!

How Fast Do You Freefall When Skydiving?

Some people have a need for speed! They thrive in the hustle and bustle, and it’s even pretty likely they will exceed the speed limit by a minimum of 10 mph as often as they can (don’t worry we won’t tell). This type wants the rush, and their ears perked when they heard that 120 mph is how fast you are going when skydiving. On the other hand, you have the more tentative types, who get sweaty-palmed and nervous at the thought of zipping through the sky at speeds quite that high.

It seems the freefall portion of a skydive is one of the most anticipated, feared, and misunderstood parts of the skydive. We don’t want you going into the experience unprepared and unaware, so here are some facts you should know about skydiving freefall:

Everything Is Under Control!

How fast you’re going in freefall is predictable thanks to modern parachuting technology and physics. Without the technology we have today, a pair of people on a tandem skydive would get moving pretty fast. We are talking close to 200 mph! This would make for a pretty uncomfortable transition when the main canopy was deployed. To resolve this, modern skydiving systems utilize a drogue parachute. This is like a mini parachute for your main parachute. The drogue is deployed shortly after exit and creates drag to help decrease the terminal velocity reached by the jumpers. This decrease in terminal velocity slows their fall enough to ensure a softer opening of the main canopy when the time comes. It also builds in some time to your skydive (which is a definite plus) allowing you to enjoy stunning aerial views of Southern California. If you are wondering just how long you fall when skydiving, at Skydive Perris you reach an altitude of about 12,500 feet and can expect a glorious 45 seconds of freefall!

drogue controls speed of tandem skydiving pair

How Terminal Velocity Impacts Skydivers In Freefall

Now, here is where physics comes in. We mentioned terminal velocity. Unless you’ve recently refreshed yourself in a high school science class or are taking a physics lecture, you might be scratching your head wondering just what that is. Well, terminal velocity on a skydive is a constant speed that is reached when the force of gravity on an object is balanced by the resistance of the air while the object is in freefall. Once an object (here a tandem pair) reaches terminal velocity there is no further acceleration!

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skydiving pair reaches terminal velocity

Freefall Doesn’t Really Feel Like Falling At All!

Now, we know that sounds crazy! Just give us a chance to explain. When you reach terminal velocity, you don’t feel yourself falling. Really, you feel more like you are floating. This is because your brain doesn’t really have the necessary information to process the speed you’ve reached. You see, you aren’t really ‘relative’ to anything else when you skydive in our wide open blue skies. Up that high, your brain doesn’t have anything to use to triangulate its position, which is why even people with a fear of heights can enjoy skydiving .

tandem skydiving pair in freefall

Regardless of what side of the coin you were on initially (need for speed, or filled with dread by acceleration), we guarantee the best way to reach 120 mph is via skydive!

How Long Do You Freefall When Skydiving?

Freefall is, for most people, the best part of any skydive. The rush of the wind in your hair, the thrill of seeing the sights from up high, the incredible rush of knowing you’re falling, unsupported, through the sky… it all makes for one of the most memorable experiences of your life.

It can also feel like it’s over in a split second! Sensory overload, caused by all the new sensations, can make it feel like the freefall is a flash of amazingness that’s over all too quickly.

Of course, the reality is that freefall is a large part of the jump. Here, we’ll explain how long you can expect to be in freefall depending on the type of jump you’re doing.

how long do you freefall when skydiving hop n pop skydiving

How long do you freefall in a tandem skydive?

Tandem skydiving is the most common way to experience skydiving for the first time. This is where you’re strapped to an experienced instructor who operates the equipment for the both of you, meaning you’re (almost) a passenger on the front (though when you come to jump with us, you’ll learn about the role you play in the skydive and how to adopt the correct body position and so on).

Your tandem skydiving journey starts with an airplane ride up to our exit altitude. Once there, you’ll move to the airplane door with your instructor and exit into freefall.

So how long do you freefall when skydiving? Freefall itself lasts around 45 to 60 seconds. During this time, you’ll be able to look around you and to take in the views or, if you’re paying for a video of your jump, to make faces at the camera that will be in front of you!

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freefall when skydiving time

How long do you freefall in a solo skydive?

There are plenty of disciplines within skydiving which changes the rate at which you fall and therefore the amount of time in freefall. Here are just a few:

Freefall with a wingsuit “squirrel suit”

Wingsuiting is a popular discipline that involves wearing what’s looks like a flying squirrel suit. The whole body becomes a wing.

This changes the fall rate of the skydiver and decreases it significantly by increasing their surface area and helping them to fly across the sky rather than straight down.

Wingsuiters will be in freefall for between one and three minutes, depending on the wingsuit design and the skydiver’s experience in piloting it.

wingsuiting more to tandem jumping

Freefall while freeflying

Conversely, freeflying is a discipline that increases the rate of descent because it’s about flying your body on different axis.

For example, freeflyers will fall to earth in a standing or head down position, which means their surface area is reduced and their rate of descent increases.

This means freeflyers will typically be in freefall for between 30 and 60 seconds.

vfs skydiving vertical skydiving bad lieutenants

The Bad Lieutenants Skydiving Team Competing in VFS Skydiving

Freefall doing relative work (RW)

Relative work, or RW, is the discipline of falling in the stable belly to earth orientation used in tandem skydiving, but doing so as a solo jumper jumping with a group of other solo jumpers (as opposed to tandems).

These groups range from 2 to hundreds of skydivers but are most usually groups of between 4 and 8. The belly to earth orientation gives the skydiver a greater surface area than freeflying. For this reason, they fall slower.

RW skydivers are typically in freefall for around 60 to 90 seconds.

skydiving positions formation skydiving rw skydivers

High pulls

Not all skydives are about freefall. In CRW (canopy relative work) skydivers opt to open their parachutes as soon as they exit the aircraft. These ‘high pulls’ can also be done for simple fun or during the process of learning to skydive.

Freefall time is reduced to a minimum when someone has a high pull.

Want to find out how freefall feels? Find out about tandem skydiving with us or get in touch if we can answer any questions for you.




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