How Long is a Skydive?

Wednesday, July 19, 2023

When preparing for your first time skydiving, it’s important to account for the amount of time you’ll be spending at the dropzone and while on your skydive. The entire process from check-in to landing can last between 2 and 4 hours (depending on how busy it is and if there are any weather restrictions). But how long does skydiving last? We’ve got the breakdown for you!

How Long Do You Freefall When Skydiving?

Freefall is the time when you exit the plane right before the parachute is deployed. This is the time when you are falling free through the air with no bounds – it’s as awesome as it sounds! So, how long are you in the air when skydiving? The amount of time you spend in freefall depends on a few factors such as weight, body position, and (most of all) altitude.

As a tandem skydiver, freefall can last anywhere from 40 to 60 seconds depending on the exit altitude at your dropzone. It may not sound like a long time at first, but when you’re taking in all the new sensations happening outside and inside your body, it’ll feel like the longest minute of your life! If you’re jumping from 10,000 feet, you’ll freefall for about 45 seconds at around 120 mph until your instructors deploy the parachute at around 5,000 feet. To put it in perspective, you’ll fall 5,000 feet in just 45 seconds – wow! How long does it take to skydive from 15,000 feet? About 60 seconds – a whole minute of freedom!

For a licensed skydiver falling head down, the body is more aerodynamic, so they fall faster and can reach speeds upwards of 150 mph – making for a shorter freefall time. Currently, the fastest freefall speed in skydiving is 329.18 mph held by Marco Hepp which was set in October 2022.

skydivers training for their jump

How Long Does the Parachute Ride Take?

One of the most wondrous things about skydiving is how you go from the rush and extreme sensations of freefall, to complete peace as the parachute opens. The parachute ride is a moment of tranquility. When everything slows down, you’ll get to take in the incredible views and catch your breath.

A typical parachute ride takes about 5 minutes until you’re back on solid ground. This can change based on weight, parachute size, and how you fly the parachute. For example, a smaller parachute will descend much faster than a larger one that is used during a tandem or student skydive. As experienced skydivers, we can change our descent rate by manipulating the parachute toggles and making for a faster landing. You can see this style of canopy piloting when swooping or watching other skydivers land in time to pack their parachutes back up and make the next airplane load. More jumps = happy skydivers!

WNY Skydiving Training Class

How Long Does a Skydive Last?

Although the skydive itself lasts just 5-7 minutes for the freefall and parachute ride, the overall process of getting up in the air takes a bit longer. In our experience, we’ve found it is best for our customers to plan to be at the dropzone for at least half the day, just in case the weather isn’t cooperating or the dropzone is busier than usual. As a tandem skydiver, you’ll need to go through a few extra steps to prepare for a safe and successful skydive! Here is a step-by-step for how long skydiving can last in total:

Ride up to altitude in the Cessna at WNY Skydiving
  • Check-In/Prep: 40 Minutes

During this time, you will check in with one of our awesome team members who will help you sort out paperwork, assign you to a tandem instructor, and airplane load. Next, you’ll receive a 30-minute briefing from an instructor who will go over everything you need to know about the equipment, entering/exiting the aircraft, freefall body position, and the importance of lifting your legs for landing.

  • The Waiting Game: 20+ minutes

After your class, you’ll wait for your turn to get on an airplane load. If loads are running quickly, you could only be waiting for about 20 minutes, or so. If the dropzone is busy and loads are full or we need to wait for the weather to clear, you could be waiting longer. We promise it’s worth the wait!

  • Gear Up/Airplane Ride: 30 Minutes

Once it’s your turn to board the airplane, your instructor will spend a few minutes getting you geared up in our special tandem harness. As soon as your gear is secured, you’ll walk with your tandem instructor to the loading area. The airplane ride takes about 20-30 minutes – plenty of time to take in the scenic view!

  • Exit/Freefall: 45 seconds

Before you know it, you’ll be jumping out of the airplane, freefalling through the big blue sky for about 45 seconds of pure adrenaline bliss.

  • Parachute Ride: 5 minutes

On a tandem skydive, your instructor will usually deploy the parachute around 5,000 feet. You’ll experience about 5 minutes of sightseeing serenity as you float back down to the ground.

High five after a successful tandem skydive.

After your jump, you’re free to go – or feel free to hang out and watch more skydives or chat it up with other skydivers! If you purchased a video/photo package, it will be sent directly to your email so no need to wait around.

Think you’re ready to skydive? Book a jump with the premier place to skydive in Western New York – WNY Skydiving! Blue skies.

Follow WNY Online

Get news and updates in your inbox!