Terminal Velocity In Skydiving


There is nothing as exciting and liberating as throwing yourself off a moving plane and flying like a carefree bird in the vast skies. Skydiving is one of those best moments where the feeling of anticipation and waiting for the jump is building up.

We certainly have that fear but as we jump there is also this excitement building in our hearts that urges us to take up this dangerous task. Just the thought of jumping makes your heart beat faster than a little schoolboy who is in love.

There is no greater feeling than being able to overcome and conquer your fears. When a person is diving from the sky, the initial speed is zero, so the drag force is zero. As speed increases, the drag force grows, eventually canceling out the person’s weight. At that point, acceleration is zero and terminal velocity is reached.

Terminal Velocity In Skydiving
Terminal Velocity In Skydiving

Every single one of us at one point or another dreamt of being able to fly and there is no better way to fly than skydiving. As soon as you are 13,000 feet up in the air, you jump off and free-fall into the clouds for about a minute.

At the time of the fall, we all have the feeling of being invincible. Like superman on and in that infinite moment, you can truly say that you are flying. Skydiving gives you the perfect opportunity to enjoy the scenery from a unique vantage point- from up in the sky. We jump and see some of the incredible views and wonders of the world.

What Happens When A Person Jumps Off The Plane?

After jumping, a skydiver begins gaining speed at a very high rate. The increase in speed also increases the air resistance the diver experience. Eventually, with time, the diver will move fast enough that the air resistance is equal in size to their weight, but in the opposite direction, so they have no net force. 

When the diver jumps off and gains momentum in the sky, the diver experiences a net force of zero which must be in equilibrium, but they are not in static equilibrium because they are not static. Instead, they are in dynamic equilibrium, which means that they are moving, but the motion isn’t changing because all the forces are still balanced.

Terminal Velocity In Skydiving
Terminal Velocity In Skydiving

Newton’s first law applies to objects that are not moving and to objects that are already moving. But the laws of motion don’t apply to the skydiver. During the case of skydivers we are applying newton’s first law to translational motion (back and forth, up and down). However, it also holds for the effect of net torques on changes in rotational motion.  

Terminal Velocity That We Feel During A Skydiving

Before the terminal speed reaches, the forces of drag and weight are not equal. Therefore the skydiver is not in dynamic equilibrium and speed will change over time. In order to analyze the early part of the skydiving, we need to quantify the change in motion. This will help us to learn how those changes are related to the net force.

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