Skydiving Freefall: What To Expect

Skydiving Freefall: What To Expect

Published: August 20, 2019

"Think of the happiest things, it's the same as having wings ..."

This famous song from the original 1953 animated Peter Pan film was onto something. Flying is one of the most thrilling and exhilarating experiences imaginable. A full 65 years later, we're still in search of pixie dust, but in the meantime, we're taking full advantage of the very next best thing: skydiving.

More than one million people worldwide make a tandem skydive in a given year, and their response to this life-altering experience is so compelling, so curious, so wonder-filled, that they inspire more than a million more to skydive in the next year. The holy grail every last skydiver seeks, whether a first timer or a veteran, is the unparalleled high offered up during skydiving freefall. Glorious, soul-nourishing, adventure-quenching, adrenaline-soaked freefall.

Here's what you can expect when it's your turn to go tandem skydiving:


Every skydive is formulaic. You fly to altitude, jump out, experience freefall and then float under canopy (parachute) to the ground. Freefall starts the moment you exit the plane and stops the moment the parachute is released. During freefall, you are literally falling freely - no ropes or restraints - through pale-blue gorgeousness; belly to the ground, wind in your face, mind wide open.


Two factors determine the duration of skydiving freefall - the altitude at which you exit the plane (i.e. how high you are from the ground) and your freefall velocity (i.e. how fast you're falling).

Typically, skydivers exit the plane between 8 and 10 thousand feet The average descent rate (see below) is 10 seconds for the first 1,000 feet, and then five seconds per each additional 1,000 feet. During freefall, you can breathe, communicate with your tandem instructor and camera flyer (if you purchased a video package), and take in the significance of the spectacular choice you've made by skydiving.


Hella fast! Typically 120 miles per hour. Your actual speed will depend on your weight and that of your instructor, as well as the equipment you'll fly under, and also the position of your body. Belly-to-the-ground skydiving provides the most wind resistance and therefore allows you to go "slower"; jumping feet first or head first yields far less resistance and so significantly increases your speed (these positions are for the pros).


It's common and downright fair to assume that falling this fast would make you feel like you're hurtling toward the ground without control, but that's not true. The classic sensation of falling is seconds-long and occurs just after exiting the plane when you're accelerating to terminal velocity, which is the fastest speed you will experience throughout your skydive. Once at terminal velocity, you equalize and any feeling of falling is replaced by a feeling of floating. You are flying, and it feels amazzzzzing.

"Think of all the joy you'll find, when you leave the world behind and bid your cares goodbye!"

People tend to worry that they won't be able to breathe while traveling 120 mph at thousands of feet in the air - but you can. The only thing stopping you from breathing is you holding your breath. BREATHE! SCREAM! LET GO!

Another common question is about noise. People fear that rushing through the wind will create a deafening sound. Not so. The sound is about as loud as driving on the highway with the windows down. You can't necessarily chitty chat with your passenger, but you aren't in any discomfort either.

Concerns about flying off course are common, but unfounded, as well. In the same way you can manipulate your body to control the direction in which you swim, you can employ the laws of aerodynamics and control the direction in which you fly. Moving your arms, legs or trunk can influence not only which way you go, but also how fast. Your tandem instructor will keep you on track, and may even demonstrate these laws in action - which is way cool.

In short, freefall feels phenomenal. (Read about the 3 Phases of Freefall!)


To experience freefall first-hand, jump with us. Nothing floats our boat more than introducing our incredible sport to others, and the convenience of our location, the professionalism and experience of our world-class instructors, our top-notch dropzone and our g.o.r.g.e.o.u.s views will set you up with memories to last a lifetime.


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Thank you, Skydive Long Island and your amazing staff for going over and beyond to help me accomplish this!

» Ji-Eun Kim

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