Is indoor skydiving the same as a zero gravity experience?

Anti-gravity: the dream of every would-be astronaut and space obsessed kid (okay, who are we kidding, adults too!).

It does sound pretty great: completely free from the confines of gravity, bounding weightless, hopping from moon crater to moon crater.

But, we’ve got a bit of bummer news: anti-gravity doesn’t exist.

Here’s a quick physics briefing.

Way back when, Sir Isaac Newton concluded that the force of gravity was what made an apple fall from a tree and kept the plants, animals, and people that call this spinning planet home from being flung off willy nilly into space. Additionally, Sir Issac Newton deduced that gravity forces exist between all objects and that gravity is a force of attraction between any two masses in the universe. Turns out this force even exists way out in orbit, and the only way to “escape” gravity is to reach a region of space far beyond any celestial bodies.

So, what is hopeful zero gravity dreamer to do?

how long does indoor skydiving last

Well, you can get close, empty your pockets (it runs just under $5,0000), and give your stomach a run for its money, in a modified Boeing 727 that takes passengers up to 24,000feet on a steep parabolic arc to induce 1.8G’s on a ride lovingly nicknamed the vomit comet (sounds yummy right?) OR

You can experience something else truly spectacular (and less nausea inducing): indoor skydiving.

Indoor skydiving is not the same as a truly zero gravity experience. This is because you’re free-falling rather than entirely defying the earth’s grasp on you; but it’s as close you can come to the fun, cushioned, and weightless feeling you’re craving! Consider the indoor wind tunnel your personal anti-gravity chamber – here’s why:

Astounding Air Acrobatics

One of the most enchanting things about a zero-gravity experience would be the floating, flipping, head over heels acrobatics. Guess what? This “zero gravity ride” is exactly what can occur during indoor skydiving. Beginner flyers will generally fly on the horizontal axis of their body (I.e. their tummy or back). However, as a flyer develops skills may then begin experimenting with other orientations (think head up like sitting in a chair or head down with feet in the air). These topsy turvy mind bending acrobatics are as mesmerizing to watch as they are fun to do!

Build Skills and Make Friends

So, what would you say to being able to get as close to zero gravity as possible AND to having a great time flying with your friends? Even, if your friends won’t join you, the indoor skydiving tunnel offers flyers the opportunity to connect with others and make friends. The other neat thing about flying in the indoor wind tunnel is the ability to build and develop skill sets necessary for body flight. While nature may have got gifted you with wings, you can still fly!

Fun for the Whole Family

Indoor skydiving can quickly become a family affair! Flight in the indoor wind tunnel is well suited to individuals of all ages. In fact, we routinely host flyers from ages 3 through 93! While a full anti-gravity experience might be too much for the grandparents, a flight in the indoor wind tunnel is quite alright. Get the aunts and uncles off the side-lines and bring everyone out to experience the joy of flight!

Understanding the Physics of Skydiving

We’ve all had those moments back in our school days – you know, the “I’m never going to need this” mindset? For some, these thoughts struck in math class; for others, it was during science. Turns out, a whole lot of that math and science stuff is useful for understanding the science of skydiving.

Read Post  How to Use the Wind Tunnel as a Tool for Skydiving

We won’t bog you down with too much detail because, well, blue skies are calling. But some high-level info on the physics of skydiving is important to understand because it will make you a better skydiver and help you appreciate the magic you pull off with every jump!

The Physics of The Skydiving Freefall

Let’s start at the top with the holy grail we all seek: freefall. Freefall offers, on average, a glorious minute of good-good physics. Immediately upon exiting, gravity will start calling you back down to terra firma while the wind resistance that’ll meet you from below will keep you sky-high.

As freefall progresses and your rate of fall increases, both forces will become stronger … until they become equal. This is called terminal velocity. From here you will continue falling at the same rate – you won’t go any faster or slower. Typically, skydivers fall at a rate of 120 mph once terminal velocity is achieved. Terminal velocity is one of the factors that keep you from feeling like you’re falling. Instead, you feel like you’re floating – because you kinda are!

science of skydiving

Affecting Terminal Velocity

Two easy-to-control factors affect your rate of terminal velocity, allowing you to change how much drag you create. Mass (size and weight) will affect the speed at which you’ll fall. More mass makes for a faster fall. Fun fact – some skydivers wear weights in order to increase their fall rate.

Body positioning will affect your speed, big time. The skydiving arch – the characteristic belly-to-earth position for tandem students and beginning solo flyers – allows you to create a significant surface area, giving air friction plenty to push against. Moving your arms and legs affects your fall rate and direction. Bring them closer to your body, you’ll fall faster; spread them apart and you’ll slow down. Put one arm into the wind and you’ll turn; push down with your legs and you’ll go forward.

More advanced flyers enjoy playing around with different body positions, all of which influence drag. Head down flyers, for example – whose heads are pointed to the earth and legs are to the sky – won’t reach terminal velocity until between 150 and 180 mph.

The Physics of Canopy Flight

The fascinating physics of skydiving continues into the five or six-minute canopy flight portion of the jump. Parachute design is nothing short of amazing. With the help of fabric and string, we can jump out of a plane from thousands of feet in the air, fly around the sky, and then land on solid ground – and then pack it all back up and do it again!

When the parachute is deployed, your surface area dramatically increases, causing the wind resistance to overtake the force of gravity, and causing you to slow way down. The average modern, rectangular parachute descends at a rate of 17 mph with a glide ratio of 1:1 – meaning for every meter you advance forward, you descend by one meter – which results in flight at a 45-degree angle. Smaller, sportier parachutes worn by more advanced skydivers fly much faster.

Parachutes originally flown by the military were round and supremely difficult to steer. The rectangular parachutes of today are easily manipulated and can be steered with incredible precision. Toggles, that lead to brake lines, are held in each hand. When pulled, they change the shape of the canopy – and therefore change the effect of gravity and wind resistance. Pull one to turn; pull both to slow down.

the physics of skydiving

It all makes sense, right? Maybe physics class would’ve been easier to understand if we’d talked about the nuances in skydiving terms!

Ready to put your physics of skydiving knowledge to the test? Come jump with us ! Blue skies, y’all!

Inertial Force

Physics is technically analogous to the contributions of Sir Isaac Newton. He is the man who revolutionised classical physics with his laws of motion. He propounded three laws of motion, and the first of these is related to inertia. But first, let us first understand the meaning of inertia.

Read Post  Why You Should Go Skydiving on Your Birthday

The term ‘inertia’ comes from the Latin word ‘iners’, which translates to lazy or idle. Johannes Kepler coined the term. The meaning of inertia is related to the fixed characteristic of an object made of matter. Inertia is a quality found in all things made of matter that have mass. An object made of matter keeps doing what it is doing until there is a force that changes its speed or direction. A ball on a table will not start rolling unless someone or something pushes it. It is noteworthy that if you toss a ball in a frictionless vacuum space, the ball will keep moving at the same speed and direction forever unless there is some action created by gravity or collision.

The measure of inertia is mass. Objects with a greater mass resist a change in their motion or rest more than objects with lower mass. For example, moving a truck will require more forceful pushes. On the contrary, moving a bike will require less aggressive impulses. This difference in force is because the truck and bike have different masses. A truck has more significant inertia than that of a motorcycle.

The law of inertia is also known as Newton’s First Law, it forms the basis of physics, it postulates that if an object is at rest or moving at a constant speed in a straight line will keep remaining at rest or will keep moving at the same speed unless it is acted upon by a force. This object will keep moving and less force or friction causes it to come to rest. The Law of inertia is the first law of the three laws of motion. This law was first experimented by Galileo Galilei and was later deduced by René Descartes.

Definition of Inertia

We can define inertia as the property of an object by which it cannot change its state of rest along a straight line on its own unless acted upon by an external force. Inertia increases with an increase in the mass of the body and vice-versa. We experience a jerk while suddenly using the brakes of a moving car because of inertia.

The Law of Inertia

Sir Isaac Newton utilised and expanded the principles shown in Galileo’s observations into his first law of motion. He gathered that it requires force for a moving ball to stop rolling once it is in motion. It takes force to change the ball’s speed and direction. In Newton’s Principia Mathematica, he defined the Law of Inertia as “the motion of bodies included in a given space are the same among themselves, whether that space is at rest or moves uniformly forwards in a straight line without circular motion.”

Thus, Newton’s First Law of Motion asserts that an object will continue to be in the state of rest or a state of motion unless an external force acts on it.

Newton’s Second Law of Motion defines the relationship between acceleration, force, and mass.

Newton’s Third Law of Motion states that an equal force acts back on the original object any time a force acts from one thing to another. This law means that every action has an equal and opposite reaction. If you pull on a rope, therefore, the rope is pulling back on you as well.

Fictitious Force

A fictitious force acts on all masses whose motion we can describe using a non-inertial frame of reference. Fictitious force comes in effect when the frame of reference has started acceleration compared to a non-accelerating frame. This force arises when there is no physical interaction between two objects. But, instead, the acceleration of the non-inertial reference frame leads to the formation of fictitious force. On account of the arbitrary nature of a reference frame, the fictitious force can also be arbitrary. The leading fictitious forces are the Centrifugal force, Coriolis force and Euler force. Fictitious force is also known as Inertial force or Pseudo force.

We can understand the fictitious force with an example. If a person standing at a bus stop is watching an accelerating car, he infers that a force is exerted on the vehicle. Hence, there is no fictitious force in this scenario. But, if the person inside the moving car is looking at the person standing at the bus stop, he realises that person is accelerating with respect to the car, although no force is acting on it. Here, the concept of fictitious force is necessary to convert the non-inertial or still frame of reference to an equal inertial frame of reference.

Read Post  Do People Pass Out, Pee Their Pants, Scream or Puke Skydiving

Types of Inertia

The inertia of Rest refers to the inability of a body to change its state by itself. For example, when we shake the branches of a tree, the leaves fall because the components they are attached to come into motion. On the other hand, the leaves tend to be at rest and hence, get detached.

The inertia of motion refers to the inability of a body to change its state of uniform motion by itself. For example, when a moving car suddenly stops, the person sitting in the car falls forward because the lower portion of the body contact with the vehicle comes to rest. In contrast, the upper part tends to remain in motion due to the inertia of motion.

The inertia of direction implies that the body cannot change its direction of movement by itself. For example, when a car takes a curve, the person sitting inside is thrown outwards to maintain his direction of motion. This phenomenon happens due to the inertia of direction.

Formula of Inertia

We can understand the moment of inertia as a quantity that decides the amount of torque needed for a specific angular acceleration in a rotational axis. The moment of inertia is alternatively called angular mass, and its SI is kg.m2.

In General form, we can express the Moment of Inertia in the following way

m = sum of the product of mass.

r = distance from the axis of rotation

I = Integral form

M 1 L 2 T 0 gives the dimensional formula of the moment of inertia.

The moment of inertia is the calculation of the resistance of a body required to bring change in its rotational motion. It is constant for a particular rigid frame and a specific axis of rotation.

Topics Related to Inertial Force

A few topics related to inertial force are as follows:

The law of inertia

Newton’s first law of motion

Newton’s second law of motion

Newton’s third law of motion

Conservation of momentum

Equilibrium of a particle

Common forces in mechanics

Solving problems in mechanics

Important Laws Concerning Inertial Force

Some of the important laws can be stated as follows:

Aristotelian Law of Motion- An external force is necessary to keep a body in motion.

Law of Inertia- An object is in a state of rest or of uniform motion in a straight line, it only moves when it is compelled by an outer force to act otherwise.

Newton’s First Law of Motion- If the net force of an object is zero, then the acceleration is zero. Acceleration can change only after there is a change in net force.

Newton’s Second Law of Motion – The rate of change of momentum of an object is directly proportional to the force applied and takes place in the direction in which the force acts.

Newton’s Third Law of Motion – To every action, there is always an equal and opposite reaction. Or, Forces always occur in pairs. Force on a body A by B is equal and opposite to the force on body B by A.


The concept of inertia is one of the most critical topics in Physics. Understanding inertia may seem challenging. But, the topic becomes manageable with regular revision and thorough understanding. You can take the help of our study materials available on our website to get a firm grasp on such complicated subjects.




Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *