Skydiving Altitude and Airplanes

Cookies and milk, peanut butter and jelly, altitude and airplanes: some things go together. In a way, the altitude you reach and the airplane you ride in make skydiving what it is, especially at a first-rate facility like Skydive Orange. Ultimately, the altitude you skydive from will define your entire adventure. So, what determines the altitude you jump from? The aircraft! Want to learn more? Keep reading for industry intel about airplanes and the altitude of skydiving.

Average Skydiving Height

In general, the average skydiving altitude for dropzones in the United States is right around 10,000 ft. Why this number? Well, the majority of dropzones utilize an aircraft called the Cessna-182. This plane is a small, single-engined aircraft that seats four (not including the pilot). Though the workhorse of the industry, this plane is not powerful enough to take jumpers to an altitude higher than 10,000 feet. For a point of reference, from this altitude, a skydiver will be in free fall for about 40 seconds.

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Is Higher Altitude Better?

Ask any skydiver and they’ll say “without a doubt.” In fact, mention the opportunity to get higher altitude to skydivers, and they’re practically throwing their money at you. The reason we prefer higher altitudes is that it allows us more time to enjoy our playground: the sky!

What’s the Difference In Skydiving Aircraft?

At Skydive Orange, we primarily operate an aircraft called the Twin Otter. The Twin Otter is a large turbine aircraft that seats 22 people. Compared to the Cessna-182, the engine on the Twin Otter is supercharged. The Twin Otter can reach an altitude of 14,000 feet in 15-20 minutes. Because of its speed and size, this aircraft allows us to have a more comfortable ride to a higher altitude with more of our friends!

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Can You Skydive From Higher Than 14,000 feet?

It’s possible to reach altitudes higher than 14,000 feet, but to do so, you will need supplemental oxygen. As you ascend higher and higher above sea level, the air thins. Essentially, the amount of oxygen in each breath you take diminishes the higher you go. To prevent experiencing hypoxia (altitude sickness), for jumps above 15,000 feet, supplemental oxygen is needed.

What Skydiving Altitude Do You Get At Skydive Orange?

At Skydive Orange, you can pick your own altitude adventure!

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The typical altitude of skydiving at Skydive Orange is 14,000 feet, which, by the way, is higher than any other skydiving center in Virginia! From this height, a jumper will enjoy 60 seconds (one full minute) in freefall.

Fancy even more time to soak in freefall? If you come between the months of May-October, you can reach even greater heights. At Skydive Orange, we also offer High Altitude Low Opening (HALO) tandems. The skydiving altitude of a HALO tandem is an incredible 17,500 feet. From this altitude, jumper’s experience a freefall of 80 seconds. To put it in perspective, that is nearly a minute and a half of freefall or double the time spent in freefall on a skydive from 10,000 feet!

As we mentioned above, for a HALO tandem, there’s the added custom experience of utilizing supplemental oxygen.

Interested in seeing the world from 14K or maybe even higher? Skydive Orange is ready to give you the inside look! Reach out with a call or email today!

Skydiving Altitudes Explained

When it comes to skydiving, altitude is everything. Why does skydiving height matter so much? Because it determines the amount of thrilling freefall you’ll get to enjoy, of course! With this in mind, you may be surprised to learn that skydiving height is not a uniform number across the board. In fact, throughout the industry, skydiving altitudes can range from 3,500 feet right on up to 18,000 feet!

Let’s explore the minimum and maximum and everything in between! Here are the skydiving altitudes explained!

skydiving heights

The Relationship Between Skydiving Altitude and Aircraft

Generally, the determining factor for skydiving altitude is the type and size of the aircraft being used for jump operations. At the majority of skydiving dropzones in the United States, the aircraft utilized is the trusty Cessna-182. Considered the workhorse of the industry, the Cessna-182 is an efficient, single-engine aircraft. Reliable and well-made, the Cessna-182 is an economical choice for many smaller dropzones, but it does have its drawbacks. The two primary caveats of the Cessna-182 is that it is small (it can only seat four jumpers in addition to the pilot) and reaches an efficiency ceiling of around 10,000 feet. For the aircraft to go any higher, it requires an unsustainable amount of time and fuel.

Within our fleet at Skydive New England, we are proud to have our own venerable Cessna-182, as well as a trusty Cessna 206, but the pride and joy of our collection is the enviable jewel of the skydiving industry, a 22- passenger Super Otter!

The Super Otter is a beauty of a turbine aircraft with the necessary power to routinely take our jumpers to an impressive 14,000 ft skydiving height. But that’s not all! In addition to the extra altitude, the Super Otter also affords its passengers a roomy, swift ride—often reaching skydiving altitude in about 15 minutes.

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How Skydiving Altitude Affects Your Experience

The higher the skydiving altitude, the longer you get to spend in freefall! Time flies when you’re having fun, so why not enjoy a little extra?

From a skydiving altitude of 10,000 feet, you will experience 35-40 seconds of freefall time and around a four to five-minute canopy ride. From the skydiving height of 14,000 feet, you can expect to enjoy a full minute of thrilling freefall followed by a four to five-minute canopy ride!

normal skydive height

Minimum Height For Skydiving

For licensed skydivers, the minimum height for skydiving is around 3,500 feet. For tandem skydivers, the minimum height for skydiving is quite a bit higher. Because of the type of parachute used and the additional weight, to maintain an adequate buffer of altitude in the event of an emergency, the minimum height for tandem skydiving is around 8,000 feet.

Maximum Height For Skydiving

Technically, there is no exact maximum height for skydiving, but in general, high altitude skydives are completed from 17,000-18,000 feet. At this altitude, the air is less densely saturated with oxygen, and so it should be noted that any skydives completed above 15,000 feet require supplemental O2. Furthermore, because of the additional equipment required, these HALO (high altitude low opening) skydives generally have a hefty price tag.

Skydiving Altitude At Skydive New England

At Skydive New England, we jump from an altitude of 14,000 feet, giving you a wondrous minute of freefall fun and a scenic four to five-minute tour of the Maine countryside.

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Reach new heights with Skydive New England and book a tandem skydive today!

What is the highest altitude you can skydive from?

Skydiving altitude varies from one skydiving center to another depending upon: the class of airspace the dropzone flies through; the type of aircraft used; and even the weather conditions on any given day. Inquisitive first-time skydivers tend to have a lot of questions – including the popular one, what is the highest altitude you can skydive from?

You asked and, as your resident skydiving experts, we are happy to answer. In fact, we will do even better. Here’s the scoop on different skydiving altitudes, starting at the top!

What is the highest altitude you can skydive from?

Can you skydive from 50,000 feet?

The highest verified altitude you can skydive from in the United States is 30,000 feet. For context, this is in the range of standard cruising altitude for a commercial airline and about 7 miles up. In other words, much higher than your average skydive at 10,000 feet or nearly 2 miles up!

Currently, a skydive from this altitude is offered seasonally at only one skydiving dropzone in the world. A skydive from this altitude is so rare because of the care and consideration that must be taken, which exceeds even the stringent requirements of skydiving from typical altitudes. For starters, it requires specific approval from the Federal Aviation Administration as well as a waiver to fly above 28,000 feet. Additionally, individuals wanting to jump from this altitude, including tandem skydivers, must have an FAA Class 3 medical certificate (or equivalent) and participate in physiological training.

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A skydive from 30,000 feet also requires specialized breathing equipment. Because the air pressure is greatly reduced at these extremely high altitudes (meaning the number of oxygen molecules in the air decreases) , the risk of hypoxia is extremely high. To mitigate the risk of hypoxia, participants must breathe pure oxygen for about an hour prior to taking off, and receive oxygen supplements on the way to altitude.

As you can imagine, because of all the requirements, these HALO (High Altitude, Low Opening) tandem skydives are quite pricey. Jumps from this height cost thousands of dollars.

Man jumping into freefall during first tandem skydive at Wisconsin Skydiving Center near Chicago

How High Are Typical High Altitude Skydives?

Facilities that offer high altitude skydiving typically ascend to 18,000 feet. Even these facilities, though, are few and far between. This is because the aircraft and the specialized equipment necessary are extremely expensive and require frequent (also expensive) maintenance.

What’s the highest you can skydive from without oxygen?

Oxygen is required for any skydive over 15,000 feet – any higher will introduce a new range of considerations.

According to the Skydiver Information Manual: “The reduced oxygen, lower atmospheric pressure and temperature, and the higher winds and airspeed above 15,000 feet MSL make skydiving more hazardous in this region than at lower altitudes.” The SIM also goes on to state that the most immediate concern at these higher altitudes is oxygen deficiency (hypoxia).

Looking down from a plane at an altitude of 10,000 feet at Wisconsin Skydiving Center near Chicago

What is the Normal Skydiving Altitude?

The normal skydiving altitude at most skydiving centers falls between 10,000 and 14,000 feet. Across the United States, the most common skydiving altitude is 10,000 feet. In order to reach higher altitudes in a time-efficient and cost-effective manner, a skydiving center must have a turbine aircraft.

How long do skydives last?

A skydive consists of two primary parts: the freefall and the canopy ride. Because the parachute deployment altitude is pretty standard across the board (somewhere between 6,000 and 5,000 feet), the only real difference you experience jumping from different altitudes is the amount of time spent in freefall.

The freefall time from extremely high altitude jumps like the 30,000 ft HALO jump mentioned above is around 170 seconds or 2.5 minutes. A more typical, although still fairly rare, high-altitude skydive from 18,000 feet has a freefall time of 80 seconds or 1 minute and 20 seconds. The typical skydiving freefall time is about 60 seconds.

At Wisconsin Skydiving Center, you will freefall for approximately one minute before the parachute is deployed and you glide through the sky for another 5 to 7 minutes.

Are you ready to reach new heights? Schedule your first tandem skydive today !




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