How long does a skydive last?

Skydive LangarTandem skydive

Skydiving is probably one of the most exciting things you’ll do in your lifetime. But while you can be certain of a great time, there are other things about our sport that you might be wondering about – like, for example, how long a skydive lasts for, how long you’ll be falling in freefall and how long it takes to fly the parachute to the ground.

The purpose of this post is to answer those questions and help you to feel even more excited about your upcoming jump! Not yet booked on? No worries – you can book your tandem skydive right here on our website, or call our office to speak to a member of the team.

Tandem skydiver in freefall

How long do skydivers spend in freefall?

The amount of time we spend freefalling during a skydive is dictated by how fast we’re falling.

A decent benchmark figure is around 120mph and this covers most solo jumpers, with tandem skydivers falling a little faster.

It’s also dependent on how high we jump from. When exiting the aircraft at 14,000 feet, it takes approximately 10 seconds to fall the first 1,000 feet until we reach what’s known as terminal velocity, which is our fastest falling speed, at which point it’s more like 5 seconds per 1,000 feet.

A solo skydiver can expect to be in freefall for around 60 seconds, while a tandem skydiver will be in freefall for closer to 50 seconds.

How long does it take to fly the parachute back down to the ground?

The speed at which we fly our parachutes back to the ground is defined by factors including our weight, the size of our parachute and a metric called ‘wing loading’. It’s also affected by the way we fly; so, if a skydiver is putting lots of turns in under their parachute, they will spend less time flying back down as they will increase their rate of descent, while a skydiver flying a straighter flight pattern will take, generally speaking, a little longer.

Parachutes in flight

For most solo skydivers, the parachute ride takes around 3 or 4 minutes. For tandem skydivers, we might spend a little longer taking in the sights under our much larger parachutes, so the journey from freefall to the ground is more like 5 or 6 minutes.

How long is the plane ride for a skydive?

The duration of the plane ride is influenced by things like the type of aircraft, the engine it has, how heavily loaded it is (both in terms of people and fuel) and who is flying it.

In our Grand Caravans, with their upgraded Black Hawk engines, the ride to our skydiving altitude of 14,000 feet takes between 15 and 20 minutes. During this time, the skydivers on board can enjoy the views out of the windows, or chat to their fellow jumpers.

Ride to altitude

How long can I expect to wait for my skydive?

If you’re coming to skydive with us as a tandem experience, you’ll be given a time of arrival. We schedule tandem skydivers into these slots to ensure we have the appropriate number of skydiving instructors available and space on the aircraft, so turning up promptly (not too early, not late) will streamline the process for you.

Typically, you’ll spend maybe 15 minutes finalising your paperwork with a member of our welcoming team before being briefed by a tandem instructor, with the brief itself taking a further 20 minutes. Once this is done, you’ll be ‘manifested’ for your jump, meaning your space will be allocated on one of our three aircraft. Then it’s time to relax and enjoy our facilities until your instructor calls you for your jump.

On the whole, our tandem skydivers can expect the whole process to take a couple of hours, though we do ask you to be patient if weather conditions slow our progress (we do work to strict weather requirements for safety purposes so at times have to suspend the jump programme while we wait for better weather to arrive).

We do our best to notify you well in advance if weather is likely to affect your experience, and invite you to reschedule when we believe the forecast will not permit jumping on your booked date.

How long does it take to learn to skydive by myself?

Tandem skydiving isn’t your only option to experience our amazing sport and you can learn to skydive by yourself in as few as 18 jumps!

A solo skydiver in freefall

Your solo skydiving journey starts with a full day of ‘ground school’, during which we teach you everything you need to know, followed by a series of jumps which can be done at your leisure (though the sooner you do them, the more current you are and the more likely to pass each ‘level’). We’ve had people go from no experience to fully qualified in as little as a week.