How Long Does Skydiving Last? | Skydive Key West Skip to Content

Skydive Key West Posted by: Skydive Key West 1 month ago

How long does a skydive freefall last? What about the plane ride up to jump altitude? This quick guide will break down the timeline for each part of a skydive, get you HYPED for your big day, and answer the question: How long does skydiving last altogether?

Smiling skydiving instructor and female student in freefall

How Long Does It Take To Complete A Skydive? 

How long does a skydive last from the time you exit the aircraft to landing your parachute? Generally speaking, less than 10 minutes. If you haven’t skydived before, you’re likely surprised to learn that people pay a couple hundred bucks for less than 10 minutes of fun. But if you have skydived, you know that the memories created and confidence instilled within that 10 minutes – and the build up before you board the plane – are ever-lasting and priceless. Let’s look at the play by play of a skydive. 

Arrival: 20-ish Minutes

The second you roll up to the DZ (dropzone), anticipation will be crackling through the air, each moment buzzing with anticipation. 

We would like to take this time to tell you that it is 100% normal to be a bit nervous. In fact, if you were totally at ease, we would be a little concerned! Once you arrive, you’ll be greeted by our awesome staff, watch the United States Parachute Association (USPA) Skydive Tandem Assumption of Risk Video, and fill out a waiver. 

  • Huh? What’s that video? The assumption of risk video is a breakdown of how tandem skydiving works (AKA … why it’s awesome), the calculated, but inherent, risk it holds as an extreme sport, and an explanation of the freedom found in the sport and community. 

Ground Prep: 10 Minutes

This is when it starts to get real. The ground prep period is when you meet your instructor, get geared up, get trained on how to be the best tandem student you can be, and do your pre-jump video interview! (On the fence about getting video? Get it: it’s so worth it.)

This is the perfect time to let your instructor know of any concerns or questions you have prior to the jump. Like … if you’re nervous about becoming motion sick (which is super rare), let your instructor know during this time. When motion sickness does occur, people typically don’t feel woozy until the parachute ride. Your instructor has a good degree of control over this and can fly the canopy to mimic a roller coaster or to be extremely docile, so COMMUNICATE! 

Tandem skydivers pose happily in front of Skydive Key West airplane before enjoying Florida Keys Skydiving

Flight to Exit Altitude: 15-ish Minutes

What the heck is exit altitude? This is the height (altitude) at which skydivers jump out of the plane! During the ascent to altitude, your nerves are sure to dissipate into the sparkling, blue waters of the Keys below. You’ll experience panoramic views of the vibrant colors, contours, and sheer beauty of the world beneath you – we wish we could describe it better, but words cannot do this experience justice! 

Freefall: 40-ish Seconds

How long does a tandem skydive last? Well, it depends on your exit altitude and fall rate. Skydivers typically jump from between 4,000 feet and 14,500 feet. Sometimes, people do HALO jumps – High Altitude, Low Opening – and these require the use of supplemental oxygen onboard the aircraft and during freefall. The higher up you jump from, the longer the freefall time! Industry standard is 40 seconds, which is optimal. It’s enough freefall time to take it all in but not so much that you’re thinking, “Uhhhh, okay when is this gonna end!?” 

  • What’s fall rate? This is how fast an object (in your case, a tandem skydiving pair) falls. Your terminal velocity, i.e. your natural fall rate, is determined by a few factors, including weight, hosurface area (drag), and air density. The average terminal velocity for skydivers falling belly-to-earth is 120 mph. Licensed skydivers can pursue different disciplines other than belly flying, like flying head-up, which would decrease their drag, increase their speed, and decrease their time in freefall. 
Tandem skydiving student smiling with closed eyes during freefall

Parachute Descent: 5-ish Minutes

How long does skydiving last in the air while under the canopy? The parachute, or canopy, ride lasts around five minutes. This is an ideal amount of time to soak in the scenery while remaining comfortable in the harness. 

Post-Jump Shenanigans: Timeless!

Once you land, your videographer will do a quick post-jump interview in which you can raaaaaave about how incredible you’re feeling. Express yourself – laugh, scream, cry, jump around! We’ve seen it all, and we support you wholeheartedly. Skydiving is a big deal: celebrate your accomplishment! You can then regroup with your pals, take pics, and celebrate the giant line item you just checked off on your bucket-list! 

How long does it take to complete a skydive in TOTAL, from arrival to after-jump celebrations? If you’re coming with a group of two or less, approximately one hour. If you’ll be with a group of 12 or less, anticipate being here for about two hours. We can’t wait to get tropical with you – book your jump today! Blue skies!

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