Falling at Terminal Velocity: Unveiling Skydiver Freefall Speed!

How Fast Does A Skydiver Fall

Curious about how fast a skydiver falls? Discover the exhilarating world of skydiving and learn about the factors that affect a skydiver’s descent speed. From terminal velocity to body position, explore the physics behind this thrilling sport and uncover the incredible speeds at which these daredevils plummet towards the earth.

Have you ever wondered how fast a skydiver falls from the sky? The exhilarating sport of skydiving involves leaping out of an aircraft at high altitudes and experiencing the thrill of freefall before opening the parachute. As the skydiver plunges towards the earth, gravity takes hold, accelerating their descent to incredible speeds. But just how fast do they fall? In this article, we will explore the factors that influence a skydiver’s speed and delve into the physics behind their rapid descent. So, buckle up (or should we say, strap in) and prepare for an exciting journey into the world of skydiving velocity!



Skydiving is a thrilling adventure sport that entices daredevils from around the world. It offers an adrenaline-pumping experience as individuals jump out of an aircraft and freefall toward the ground. One common question that arises among curious enthusiasts is, How fast does a skydiver fall? In this article, we will delve into the factors that affect a skydiver’s speed during freefall and explore the physics behind their descent.

The Force of Gravity


The fundamental force that dictates the speed at which a skydiver falls is gravity. Gravity is the natural phenomenon through which two objects are drawn towards each other due to their mass. On Earth, gravity pulls everything towards its center, causing objects to accelerate as they fall. The acceleration due to gravity is approximately 9.8 meters per second squared (9.8 m/s²).

Terminal Velocity


As a skydiver jumps out of an aircraft, they initially accelerate due to the force of gravity. However, they eventually reach a point where the resistance from the surrounding air equals the force of gravity. At this stage, the skydiver’s speed stabilizes, resulting in a constant velocity known as terminal velocity.

Factors Influencing Terminal Velocity


Several factors impact the terminal velocity of a skydiver:

Skydiver’s Position

The position of the skydiver during freefall plays a crucial role in determining their terminal velocity. When the body is extended horizontally, it presents a larger surface area to the air, resulting in greater air resistance. Conversely, when the body is streamlined with arms and legs close to the torso, the surface area decreases, minimizing air resistance and increasing the terminal velocity.

Air Density

The density of the air also affects a skydiver’s terminal velocity. At higher altitudes, where the air is less dense, there is less air resistance, allowing skydivers to reach higher speeds before reaching terminal velocity. In contrast, at lower altitudes with denser air, the resistance increases, limiting the skydiver’s maximum speed.

Weight and Mass

A skydiver’s weight and mass play a role in their terminal velocity. Heavier individuals experience a greater force of gravity, causing them to fall faster compared to those with lighter weights. However, the difference in terminal velocity between individuals of varying weights is minimal due to the influence of air resistance.

The Speed of Freefall

With all these factors considered, the average speed of a skydiver in freefall is around 120 miles per hour (193 kilometers per hour). However, it is essential to note that this speed can vary depending on the specific conditions and variables at play during the jump.

Acceleration During Freefall


During the initial moments of a skydive, the skydiver accelerates due to the force of gravity. As mentioned earlier, the acceleration due to gravity is approximately 9.8 m/s². This means that every second, the skydiver’s speed increases by 9.8 meters per second.

Time Taken for Freefall

The duration of freefall can vary depending on factors such as altitude and the deployment altitude of the parachute. On average, a skydiver experiences around 60 seconds of thrilling freefall before deploying their parachute.

The Role of Parachutes


The primary purpose of a parachute is to slow down the descent of a skydiver and provide a safe landing. Once the parachute is deployed, it increases the air resistance exponentially, allowing the skydiver to decelerate from terminal velocity to a safe and controlled descent speed. The exact speed at which the parachute slows down the skydiver depends on various factors such as canopy size, design, and body position.


Understanding the factors that influence a skydiver’s speed during freefall provides insight into this thrilling adventure sport. While the force of gravity and terminal velocity determine the initial speed, factors such as the skydiver’s position, air density, weight, and mass also play significant roles. With an average freefall speed of around 120 miles per hour, skydiving offers an exhilarating experience unlike any other. So, if you’re seeking an adrenaline rush and the opportunity to defy gravity, take the leap and experience the thrill of skydiving firsthand!


Skydiving is an exhilarating sport that involves jumping from an aircraft and freefalling towards the ground before deploying a parachute. But have you ever wondered how fast a skydiver plummets through the air during this thrilling descent? In this article, we will delve into the dynamics of skydiving and explore the factors that influence a skydiver’s falling speed.

1. Terminal Velocity: The ultimate speed limit

Terminal velocity refers to the maximum speed at which an object, in this case, a skydiver, can freefall through the atmosphere. For the average skydiver, terminal velocity is approximately 120 miles per hour (193 kilometers per hour). At this speed, the forces of gravity and air resistance (also called drag) balance each other out, resulting in a steady descent rate.

2. Body Positioning: Streamlining the fall

The way a skydiver positions their body during freefall significantly impacts their falling speed. By assuming an aerodynamic posture, with limbs and torso extended and streamlined, skydivers can minimize the air resistance they encounter. This enables them to fall faster and reach or maintain their terminal velocity more quickly.

3. Weight and Shape: Impact on acceleration

A skydiver’s weight and body shape also influence how fast they fall. Heavier individuals experience more gravitational force, accelerating their descent. However, the impact of weight diminishes as the skydiver approaches terminal velocity. Body shape, on the other hand, can affect a skydiver’s ability to maintain an optimal posture and, consequently, their falling speed.

4. Altitude: An initial burst of speed

Upon exiting the aircraft, skydivers experience an initial burst of speed as they accelerate due to gravity. This acceleration gradually decreases as they approach terminal velocity. The altitude from which the jump occurs affects the duration of the freefall and, to some extent, the overall falling speed.

5. Air Density: The impact of atmospheric conditions

The density of the air through which a skydiver falls affects their descent speed. Higher air density, such as in cooler or lower altitude locations, offers more resistance, making it more difficult for a skydiver to reach or maintain terminal velocity. Conversely, low air density at higher altitudes can facilitate faster fall rates.

6. Gear and Equipment: Considerations for speed

The type and condition of the gear and equipment used in skydiving can also influence a skydiver’s falling speed. The design of the parachute, the deployment altitude, and the presence of additional equipment, such as oxygen systems for high-altitude jumps, can all impact the rate of descent.

7. Wind Conditions: Riding the air currents

Wind speed and direction at different altitudes can affect a skydiver’s falling speed and control. Strong winds can either accelerate or decelerate a skydiver’s descent, leading to variations in their overall speed. Skilled skydivers can utilize these wind currents to control their trajectory and enhance their performance.

8. Skydiver Experience: The art of control

Lastly, a skydiver’s experience level plays a role in their ability to control and adjust their falling speed. Experienced skydivers are well-versed in body positioning techniques, which allows them to manipulate drag and maintain a desired speed throughout the freefall. Novice skydivers, on the other hand, may have more difficulty in controlling their descent rate.


The falling speed of a skydiver can vary depending on several factors, including terminal velocity, body positioning, weight and shape, altitude, air density, gear and equipment, wind conditions, and the skydiver’s experience level. By understanding and managing these variables, skydivers can optimize their freefall experience and ensure a safe and exciting descent through the skies.

A professional point of view on how fast a skydiver falls can be presented as follows:

  1. Introduction:

    Skydiving is an exhilarating activity that involves jumping from an aircraft and experiencing the sensation of freefall. One of the most frequently asked questions about skydiving is how fast a skydiver falls. In this discussion, we will explore the factors influencing a skydiver’s speed during freefall.

  2. Gravity and Terminal Velocity:

    When a skydiver jumps from an aircraft, the force of gravity begins to accelerate their descent. However, as the skydiver gains speed, the air resistance (also known as drag) acting against their body increases. Eventually, a point is reached where the force of gravity and the air resistance balance out, resulting in a steady speed known as terminal velocity. Terminal velocity can vary depending on various factors such as the skydiver’s body position, weight, and equipment.

  3. Body Position:

    The body position of a skydiver greatly affects their speed during freefall. By adjusting their body posture, skydivers can increase or decrease their surface area exposed to the airflow, hence altering their rate of descent. Typically, a skydiver in a belly-to-earth position will experience a faster fall compared to someone in a more streamlined, head-down position. Body position is a crucial aspect of skydiving technique that experienced skydivers master to enhance their control and performance.

  4. Weight and Equipment:

    The weight of a skydiver and their equipment also plays a role in determining their falling speed. Generally, a heavier skydiver will fall faster than a lighter one due to the increased gravitational pull. Additionally, the design and size of the parachute system can affect the overall speed during freefall. Modern parachutes are designed to slow down the descent after the initial freefall, allowing for a safe and controlled landing.

  5. Conclusion:

    The speed at which a skydiver falls depends on several factors including body position, weight, and equipment. Understanding these variables is crucial for both beginner and experienced skydivers to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience. By mastering body positioning techniques and selecting appropriate equipment, skydivers can optimize their falling speed and control their descent with precision. Skydiving offers a unique opportunity to defy gravity and experience the thrill of soaring through the air at exhilarating speeds.

Thank you for taking the time to read our blog post on the fascinating subject of how fast a skydiver falls. We hope that you found the information provided both informative and engaging. In this closing message, we would like to summarize the key points discussed in the article and leave you with some final thoughts on the topic.

As we explored in the previous paragraphs, the speed at which a skydiver falls is influenced by various factors. One of the primary determinants is the force of gravity, which constantly pulls the skydiver towards the Earth. However, the presence of air resistance also plays a significant role in affecting the speed of descent. Initially, as the skydiver jumps from the aircraft, they accelerate due to the force of gravity. However, as they gain speed, the force of air resistance gradually increases, eventually reaching a point where it balances out the force of gravity. This state is known as terminal velocity.

Terminal velocity is different for every skydiver and is influenced by factors such as body position, weight, and the surface area of their body. On average, a typical skydiver’s terminal velocity ranges from 50 to 60 meters per second (120 to 130 miles per hour). It is important to note that these values can vary depending on individual circumstances and other external factors, such as altitude and weather conditions.

In conclusion, understanding how fast a skydiver falls involves considering the interplay between gravity and air resistance. By achieving terminal velocity, skydivers are able to experience the exhilarating feeling of freefall while maintaining a relatively stable speed. The ability to control and manipulate their body position, along with certain equipment, allows skydivers to safely enjoy this thrilling activity. We hope that this article has shed some light on the fascinating physics behind skydiving and has piqued your interest in further exploring this incredible sport.

Thank you once again for visiting our blog, and we encourage you to continue exploring our other articles on various exciting topics. If you have any questions or would like to share your own experiences with skydiving, feel free to leave a comment below. Safe travels and blue skies!

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Here are some common questions that people also ask about how fast a skydiver falls:

  1. How fast does a skydiver fall?
  2. A skydiver typically falls at an average speed of around 120 miles per hour (193 kilometers per hour) during freefall. However, this speed can vary depending on several factors, such as body position, weight, and altitude.

  3. What factors affect the speed of a skydiver’s fall?
  4. The speed of a skydiver’s fall can be influenced by various factors:

    • Body Position: By adjusting their body position, skydivers can control their speed. A more streamlined position with arms and legs close to the body reduces air resistance and increases the speed of descent.
    • Weight: Heavier individuals experience slightly faster falls due to greater gravitational force pulling them downwards.
    • Altitude: The altitude at which a skydive begins affects the initial velocity. As the skydiver gains speed during freefall, air resistance gradually balances the force of gravity, resulting in a constant terminal velocity.
    • Equipment: The type of parachute and gear being used may also influence the overall descent rate.
  5. What is terminal velocity in skydiving?
  6. Terminal velocity is the maximum speed at which a falling object, such as a skydiver, can travel through the air. For most skydivers, terminal velocity is reached after approximately 12 seconds of freefall, when the force of air resistance equals the force of gravity. This speed remains relatively constant, allowing for a safer and more predictable descent.

  7. Can a skydiver exceed terminal velocity?
  8. In practice, it is extremely rare for a skydiver to exceed terminal velocity during freefall. The speed at which air resistance equals gravity’s pull is the maximum speed achievable without additional propulsion or specialized equipment. However, certain circumstances, such as diving headfirst or wearing specialized suits, can potentially increase a skydiver’s speed slightly beyond terminal velocity.

  9. How does altitude affect a skydiver’s fall speed?
  10. Altitude plays a role in a skydiver’s fall speed due to the changing density of the atmosphere. As the altitude decreases, air becomes denser, resulting in increased air resistance. This increased resistance gradually reduces the acceleration, eventually leading to a constant terminal velocity. Therefore, higher altitudes provide more time for the skydiver to accelerate and reach their terminal velocity.

I hope these answers provide you with a better understanding of how fast a skydiver falls and the factors that influence their descent speed.

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