3 Phases of Skydiving: Freefall, Parachute Opening & Landing | Skydive Key West Skip to Content

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

Skydiving: the single greatest adventure of your life. But that one jump is actually made up of a few very different phases. You might hear experienced jumpers talking about liking one aspect way more than another. You might even discover you have your own favorite part!

One of the easiest ways to differentiate between the phases of skydiving is by how fast you are moving in each one. “How fast do you freefall when skydiving? and “how fast do you fall when the parachute is open?are two questions people often ask that can help with understanding the different parts that make up your skydive

In  freefall, you will be moving at about 120 mph. Yes, that’s as fast as it sounds! On the other hand, an open parachute causes you to slow down quite a bit. Once your parachute is deployed, you will only be moving at about 20 mph. Talk about hitting the breaks! Even with that massive slowdown, 20 mph is still a little too fast for your landing. In the final phase, your instructor will slow you down almost to a stop to safely touch back down to Earth. 

In other words, each phase of the skydive gets progressively slower until you can finally land safely. But don’t let that fool you into thinking slower means boring. Each part has its own unique form of excitement that will leave you wanting more.

Beautiful aerial view of Florida Keys skydiving with tandem skydiver under canopy off in the distance


This part of the jump is all about adrenaline. When you think about skydiving, this is probably the part you imagine. Heart pumping, nerve-tingling, scream-at-the-top-of-your-lungs kind of fun. That famous 120 mph speed occurs in the freefall portion of your skydive. Here, gravity reigns supreme. You’re literally falling through the sky with nothing to slow you down. 

The craziest part about freefall is that it doesn’t actually feel like falling. Windy? Sure. Liberating? You bet. But that uncomfortable drop in your stomach? You’re going to have to go to a theme park for that. Your brain doesn’t actually register that you are falling because there are no points of reference in the wide-open sky. You’re going to feel like you’re floating and flying your way through your first jump.  

Your main concern in freefall, besides enjoying yourself, is to maintain a stable arch position. Your instructor will go over what this means in your training but, basically, you should look like a banana falling through the sky. 

So how long do you freefall when skydiving? The freefall portion of your skydive will last about a minute. That’s a full 60 seconds of the most fun you’ve ever had in your life. And it doesn’t end there! You still have your whole parachute ride to go. 

Parachute Opening

There you are, feeling like a superhero, on top of the world (literally!). Suddenly, the hand of god reaches down, grabs you by the scruff of the neck, and yanks you upward.

Of course, you’re not actually moving upward, your parachute has just opened. But the sudden change in speed will sure make it feel like you are. You and your instructor will go from 120 mph to just about 20 mph in only a handful of seconds! 

The parachute and harness system is chock full of nifty technology that makes this whole process butter smooth. You’ll feel a gentle tug on your shoulders, and before you know it, you’ll be sitting comfortably under an open parachute with the world laid out peacefully in front of you. 

Things are a lot quieter at this point in the skydive. You and your instructor will actually be able to speak to each other! You’ll feel a gentle breeze on your face and the thrill of your feet dangling thousands of feet above the ground. If you’re more about a calm, gentle ride, this part’s for you. 

How long does it take to land when skydiving? The parachute ride is about 5 minutes long. Plenty of time to relax and enjoy some spectacular Key West views.

Aerial view from the plane at Skydive Key West


The moment of truth. The landing is the part everyone sees, so it better look good. Luckily, our instructors know how to stick a landing. 

Arguably, the landing is the scariest part. This is where you are closest to the ground and the phase that brings the whole thing to a close. Everything is going to seem like it’s moving really fast the closer you get to touchdown. After all, as we said before, 20 mph is pretty fast to be coming at something as solid as the ground. 

You knew it! You’re about to crumple into a tumbling ball and look like a fool in front of everyone at the dropzone. Just as you accept your fate, your instructor will pull the breaks and you’ll both slide into a nice, soft landing on your butts. Everyone will cheer. You’re a hero! Take a bow. 

The two main things to remember during landing are to keep your legs straight out in front of you and to follow your instructor’s commands. This is the part where your instructor will be working hardest to keep everything going smoothly. Make it as easy as you can for both of you! 

Ready to find out what your favorite part is? Book here! We can’t wait to take you through all the phases of the biggest thrill of your life! 

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