Skydiving Heights: The Altitudes You Can Jump From
An experience which differs greatly depending on what height you jump from!
The altitude you leave the plane defines how long you get to freefall. So what altitude will you jump from, and how long will that give you soaring in the air?
In this guide, I’ve covered all the popular skydiving heights.
In short, you typically skydive from 10,000ft – with about 30 seconds of freefall. This can increase to 14,000ft, or even 18,000ft, depending on the airplane and drop zone. That said, skydives can happen from anywhere between 2,200 – 45,000 ft!
Read on to find out what altitude you’ll likely be jumping from, and how skydiving from that height will look.
Note: freefall time depends on whether it’s a solo/tandem jump, and what altitude you pull your chute at. Tandems need to deploy higher – at 5,000ft.
Super Low Altitudes: 3,000 – 5,000ft.
Freefall time: 0-15 seconds. Solo jumpers only.
The lowest altitude we’re safely allowed to jump at is around 3,000ft. In some rare cases, experienced jumpers may even go from 2,200ft for a quick “hop ‘n’ pop”. These extreme cases are done on super cloudy days (common here in Scotland) where there’s not enough visibility higher up, and skydivers get bored waiting around!
A very common altitude is 4,500ft. This is the number for static line jumps – where the parachute is automatically pulled after you leave the plane. If you’re learning to skydive solo, this is your home base altitude until you unlock real freefall.
Hot Air Balloons
This category also includes hot air balloons! They can fly between 3,500 – 5,000ft when allowing skydivers to jump from them. This kind of skydiving feels totally different to jumping from a plane, because you get the butterfly feeling when jumping from a hot air balloon.
Base Tandem Height: 10,000ft.
Freefall time: 30-40 seconds.
10,000ft is the first ‘big’ altitude when it comes to skydiving. It’s the base for any tandem jump (below this wouldn’t have enough freefall time to justify it).
It’s also where many smaller airfields max out at. Running small Cessna planes like the one below limit you to around 10,000ft of jumping height.
Not quite a Boeing 747! Small Cessna’s can only fly to 10,000ft.
Ideal Height: 14,000ft.
Freefall time: 60-70 seconds.
Moving up in the world of planes and altitude gives us the great all-around altitude of 14,000ft. This gives you over a minute in freefall, and is generally the best option available for a tandem skydive.
Reaching these kinds of heights needs a combination of good planes and workable weather. Too much cloud cover means we’d be flying blind for too long!
Maximum Height: 18,000ft.
Freefall time: 80-90 seconds.
Now this is high!
It’s super rare for an airfield to offer altitudes this big. In the US, for example, there’s only a small handful on airfields which can take you to 18,000ft.
However, it does give you an extra ~20seconds of freefall time on top of the already massive 14,000ft jump. One jump from this height is the same skydiving time as three jumps from 10,000ft. Crazy!
At this height, you need a plane equipped with an oxygen supply just to avoid passing out. Though I don’t believe the oxygen is necessary in freefall, unlike the next category.
HALO Jumps: 45,000ft.
Freefall time: ~210 seconds (3.5+ minutes!)
A HALO jump is a special type of skydive pioneered by the military.
It was developed (and is still used) for undetected insertions of people or equipment behind enemy lines. The idea is to fly above radar detection, then drop a cargo which is moving so quickly downward, and so little forward, that it also isn’t detected. Typically, they also jump with very low amounts of metal to minimize the chance of getting picked up, too.
The low opening part refers to deploying the parachute at around 3,000ft. This is lower than most civilian jumpers, AND is done after falling for 3 or more minutes. Often at night. Ballsy.
Note – High Altitude, High Opening is also a thing. It’s used to glide over impassable terrain or equally avoid detection in other ways. Particularly from the loud noise of a canopy deploying.
Civilian HALO jumps are possible – but extremely rare.
Unless you’ve got friends in very high places (pun intended), there’s very few opportunities to take part in a HALO jump.
The only accessible one I know of is with the crew at halojumper.com.
Jumps start for a cool $6,000 for a solo jump, or over $20,000 for them to take you as a tandem jumper. You can imagine how much it costs them to cover the huge plane, the oxygen gear, the training, and authorizations.
That about covers all the possible heights you can jump from.
Not forgetting the ‘0ft’ altitude of indoor skydiving jumps, of course!
I hope this quick guide helped clear up what altitude you’ll be jumping from, and what you can expect.
The most important part about skydiving is simply to enjoy it. Don’t worry about exactly how many seconds of freefall you’ll be getting – it’s truly the experience of it that matters!
If this content has helped you, be sure to check out our related content below.
How High Do You Skydive From?
Every year, Skydive Cincinnati helps men and women from across Ohio to reach new heights. How high exactly? Great question. How high you skydive from will depend, in part, on the type of skydiving you are doing.
Typical Skydiving Height
At Skydive Cincinnati, the average skydiving height is between 10,000-10,500 feet. For reference, that is an impressive two miles above the earth. The height for skydiving determines how much time in freefall you will get. The average skydiving height at Skydive Cincinnati guarantees you will get right around 45 glorious seconds of freefall.
Low Altitude Jumps
Sometimes, licensed skydivers will choose a lower height for skydiving. These low-altitude jumps are used by skydivers who want to focus primarily on their canopy skills rather than their freefall skills. Nicknamed “hop-n-pops” because jumpers hop from the plane and deploy their parachute, these low altitude jumps occur between 3,500 feet and 5,500 feet.
Static Line Skydiving
Static line skydiving has an average skydiving height of 3,500 feet. On a static line skydive, a lanyard is packed into the main parachute. As the jumper exits the aircraft, the lanyard extends and aids in the opening of the main parachute. From this height, jumpers experience a freefall of about 7 seconds.
What determines skydiving altitude?
Aside from the type of skydiving that an individual is participating in, there are a couple of additional factors that affect the height of skydiving. One of these factors is the aircraft that a skydiving facility uses.
Different types of aircraft have different altitude limitations. After exceeding a certain altitude, an aircraft’s functionality deteriorates. This is because as altitude increases, air density decreases. Sometimes, this is referred to as “thin air”. The decrease in air density reduces engine performance, and thus, the aircraft is unable to perform as efficiently. For the workhorse of the industry, the Cessna 182, the maximum altitude that can be reached efficiently is around 10,500 feet.
The other factor that affects the height for skydiving is the weather. While a few puffy white clouds can really enhance your skydiving experience, too many of them can prevent you from reaching the normal skydiving height.
Skydiving aircraft must operate under something called visual flight rules and observe cloud clearances. At 10,000 feet and above, the rules require that there must be at least 5 miles of visibility, with one mile horizontal, and 1,000 feet below and above clear of clouds. If there happens to be a thick cloud layer at say, 10,000 feet, you would have to exit from an altitude below 10,000 feet but above the minimum exit altitude for a tandem skydive.
Minimum Height For Skydiving
Because the basic safety requirements issued by the United States Parachute Association state that the minimum container opening altitude for tandem skydives is 5,000 feet, the minimum height for skydiving for a tandem skydive is between 7,000 feet and 8,000 feet. However, it should be noted that a skydive from this height is not ideal as it leaves very little time for freefall. Because the parachute needs a certain amount of time to open, tandem skydives cannot be completed safely from altitudes lower than this height.
Interested in putting your knowledge to use? Check out the height for skydiving first-hand, and schedule your first skydive with Skydive Cincinnati today!
Skydiving Requirements: Weight Limits, Height, Age
Want to skydive? Make sure you meet the general skydiving requirements below. As much as we wish everyone could skydive, there are certain skydiving requirements that have to be met. Skydiving is already one of the safest extreme sports around and ensuring we meet these requirements will help keep it that way.
Skydiving requirements will vary some from dropzone to dropzone. At Wisconsin Skydiving Center, these are our skydiving requirements for weight, height, and age.
General Tandem Skydiving Requirements
Maximum Skydiving Weight
Over 200lbs? We can still take you on a skydive. While the maximum weight for our “Learn to Skydive” Accelerated Freefall program is 200lbs, we can take individuals weighing up to 260lbs on tandem skydives.
Our skydiving weight requirement is not in place to be discriminatory. The skydiving weight requirement is all about safety, for both our customers and our instructors. The larger the skydiving student, the more physical strain it puts on the skydiving instructor. From exiting the aircraft to the parachute opening and landing, the added weight can create extreme complications.
Aside from putting an undue physical strain on the instructor, jumpers that are larger than 260lbs push equipment limits. When you consider a tandem skydiving weight requirement, you have to consider that the parachute must safely carry the combined weight of the skydiver, instructor, and the equipment—not just one out of the three. Each parachute system we use has been issued a Technical Standard Order (TSO) from the Federal Aviation Administration. This TSO certifies the amount of weight under which the parachute can effectively operate. Exceed this weight limit and the gear may not function properly.
Please note, there is a surcharge for customers over 200lbs. We know paying more for our service may strike you as strange, but please allow us to explain. The surcharge is in place to cover the increased strain on our equipment for larger weight loads. Bearing larger weights puts more wear and tear on our equipment, which means we incur greater costs for increased maintenance. In addition to greater wear and tear on the equipment, taking a larger student on a skydive requires much more physical exertion on the part of our instructor. Because our instructors work diligently to provide a safe, professional, and fun experience for our students, we feel it is only fair to compensate them for the more demanding workload. The surcharges are as follows. In the range of 200-230 pounds, there is a surcharge of $50. For students exceeding 230 lbs, the surcharge is $100.
Age Minimum But No Age Maximum
Skydiving requirements for age are pretty straightforward. In order to complete a skydive, you must be 18 years of age or older. (However, we will share that waivers can be issued by the United States Parachute Association for terminally ill individuals, through organizations like the Make a Wish Program, to complete tandem skydives at earlier ages.)
As far as a maximum age requirement for skydiving, there is no “age cap” on tandem skydiving ! In skydiving, truly, you are only as old as you feel. At WSC, we’ve taken jumpers well into their 90’s on tandem skydives. The only real requirement for making a skydive at an older age is being in generally good health and possessing moderate mobility. We will go more into the general health requirements for skydiving below.
General Health Requirement for Skydiving
Skydiving is a sport, not an amusement ride. That being said, ideal candidates for skydiving should be in fairly good health with reasonable mobility. Before skydiving, certain health issues, like high blood pressure or diabetes, require careful consideration. Though, having these conditions do not necessarily preclude you from skydiving. If you have questions regarding your health and eligibility to skydive, it is important that you contact your healthcare provider. After chatting with them, give us a call. We take individuals with health restrictions on a case-by-case basis.
If you know you’re ready to skydive and it’s your first time, check out our article on getting prepared for your first skydive.