How Long is the Freefall?

How Long is the Freefall?

Published: August 23, 2017

How Long is the Freefall?

Who knew this would be such a complicated question, right? To paraphrase Elizabeth Barrett Browning: "How long is freefall? Let me count the ways." We have a lot of ground to cover, so let's get right into it, shall we?

1. How long do you freefall on a tandem skydive?

From the airplane door to the opening of the parachute (or "canopy," if you want to sound like a pro), you're looking at about 45 to 60 seconds of glory. That's plenty of time to get your head on a swivel to check out the world around you, to feel your flappiest freefall face and--if you're paying for a video of your jump--to rambunctiously geek the camera that will be hanging out right in front of you.

2. How long is the freefall on a solo skydive?

...and this is where our numbered list starts to grow a garden of bullet points. You're probably thinking about single solo skydivers falling belly-to-earth and doing a double-thumbs-up (like this guy, who proudly graces the most ubiquitous skydiving stock photo in the world). However, there are plenty of disciplines within skydiving, and each one of them subjects jumpers to a different fall rate.

? How long is the freefall when you're doing a "belly jump"?

Technically, the skydiving-stock-photo guy is doing Relative Work (RW). That's the discipline of falling in the stable, belly-to-earth orientation. It's the same body position used in tandem skydiving, but not in a, like, people sandwich. RW skydivers are typically in freefall for around 60 to 90 seconds. More skydivers attached to each other make for a slower fall rate--just like a big parachute has a slower fall rate than a weighted handkerchief would have

? How long is the freefall in a wingsuit?

Wingsuiting is the "flying squirrel suit" discipline that turns the skydiver's entire body into a ram-air airfoil. It's like wearing a sumo suit, except that the sumo suit turns you into a motorless airplane. The wearable-airplane, as you might surmise, decreases fall rate significantly and gives the jumper the purpose-built surface area to fly across the sky rather than straight down.

This adds up to an average wingsuit freefall of between one and three minutes, depending on the wingsuit design and the skydiver's experience in workin' it.

? How long is the freefall for freeflyers?

If you want to get the freefall over with, go freeflying. Freeflying is a discipline that increases the rate of descent because the whole point is to fly your body in all kinds of zippy configurations: head-down, sit, carve, stand...the list goes on. In all of 'em, the body's surface area is reduced and the rate of descent increases. Freeflyers, therefore, will typically be in freefall for between 30 and 60 seconds.

3. It's all relative, maaaaan

When you do your first skydive, you're going to be baffled by the very idea of time. Trust us on this one. It has the otherworldly feeling of lasting forever at the same time as the feeling that it's over almost before it starts. One thing is for certain: it's an experience you're going to treasure for ever and ever and ever.

Want to find out how freefall actually feels? Find out about tandem skydiving at Ozarks Skydive Center! (Don't hesitate to get in touch if we can answer any more pressing questions for you. We love 'em.)

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» Nick Ciaramitaro