How JustAnswer Works:

  • Ask an Expert
    Experts are full of valuable knowledge and are ready to help with any question. Credentials confirmed by a Fortune 500 verification firm.
  • Get a Professional Answer
    Via email, text message, or notification as you wait on our site.
    Ask follow up questions if you need to.
  • 100% Satisfaction Guarantee
    Rate the answer you receive.

Ask The Geezer Your Own Question

The Geezer
The Geezer , Successful careers
Category: General
Satisfied Customers: 1387
Experience:  Retired Civil Engineer, USC Professor & Realtor, financier
Type Your Question Here...
The Geezer is online now
A new question is answered every 9 seconds

how long does it take for a sky diver to reach

Resolved Question:

how long does it take for a sky diver to reach terminal velocity. how fast would they be going. and how far would they have fallen.
Submitted: 9 years ago.
Category: General
Expert:  The Geezer replied 9 years ago.
You would think that such a typical, standard physics question would have exactly one answer. However, you can see from the website linked below that even the experts disagree:

Some excerpts from that source:

"For a skydiver with parachute closed, the terminal velocity is about 200 km/h." (56 meters/second)

"The terminal velocity of this skydiver is about 124 mph (200 kph)." (55.6 meters/second)

"The terminal velocity of a falling human being with arms and legs outstretched is about 120 miles per hour (192 km per hour)(53 meters/second) - slower than a lead balloon, but a good deal faster than a feather!"

"A person has a terminal velocity of about 200 mph when balled up and about 125 mph with arms and feet fully extended to catch the wind." (56 - 89 meters/second)

There are more entries on that site. Certainly the precise terminal velocity for a sky diver would depend on their body shape, whether or not they were in the "head down" or "spread eagle" body orientation, and other aerodynamic factors. For now, a good estimate appears to be about 120 miles per hour or 53 meters per second... close enough - BUT the qualifier is that these speeds apply in the lower levels of the atmosphere. Where the air is much thinner higher velocities are possible (see later in the cited link).

Wikipedia says this about how long it takes a sky diver to reach terminal velocity - about 15 seconds to reach 99% of terminal velocity, that is:

"...For example, the terminal velocity of a skydiver in a normal free-fall position with a closed parachute is about 195 km/h (120 mph or 54 m/s). This velocity is the asymptotic limiting value of the acceleration process, since the effective forces on the body more and more closely balance each other as it is approached. In this example, a speed of 50% of terminal velocity is reached after only about 3 seconds, while it takes 8 seconds to reach 90%, 15 seconds to reach 99% and so on..."

Wikipedia also notes that "... the density increases with decreasing altitude, ca. 1% per 80 m (see barometric formula). Therefore, for every 160 m of falling, the "terminal" velocity decreases 1% [because the air is more dense at lower altitudes]. After reaching the local terminal velocity, while continuing the fall, speed decreases to change with the local terminal velocity..."

How far would a skydiver have fallen to reach terminal velocity? One source cites that distance as 395 meters (about 1296 feet, a quarter mile):

"...We can estimate the distance required to reach the terminal velocity to be [equation follows] 395 meters..."

Now, aren't you glad you asked?
The Geezer, Successful careers
Category: General
Satisfied Customers: 1387
Experience: Retired Civil Engineer, USC Professor & Realtor, financier
The Geezer and 59 other General Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 9 years ago.
by the time you got this to me i had grown tired of waiting and had found all the information on my own and judging by the what iread while scrolling to this point on the page he got the information at exactly the same sites I did. Take my money if you want . I suppose it was worth the lesson

JustAnswer in the News:

Ask-a-doc Web sites: If you've got a quick question, you can try to get an answer from sites that say they have various specialists on hand to give quick answers... seen a spike since October in legal questions from readers about layoffs, unemployment and severance.
Web sites like
...leave nothing to chance.
Traffic on JustAnswer rose 14 percent...and had nearly 400,000 page views in 30 days...inquiries related to stress, high blood pressure, drinking and heart pain jumped 33 percent.
Tory Johnson, GMA Workplace Contributor, discusses work-from-home jobs, such as JustAnswer in which verified Experts answer people’s questions.
I will tell you that...the things you have to go through to be an Expert are quite rigorous.

What Customers are Saying:

  • Wonderful service, prompt, efficient, and accurate. Couldn't have asked for more. I cannot thank you enough for your help. Mary C. Freshfield, Liverpool, UK
< Previous | Next >
  • Wonderful service, prompt, efficient, and accurate. Couldn't have asked for more. I cannot thank you enough for your help. Mary C. Freshfield, Liverpool, UK
  • This expert is wonderful. They truly know what they are talking about, and they actually care about you. They really helped put my nerves at ease. Thank you so much!!!! Alex Los Angeles, CA
  • Thank you for all your help. It is nice to know that this service is here for people like myself, who need answers fast and are not sure who to consult. GP Hesperia, CA
  • I couldn't be more satisfied! This is the site I will always come to when I need a second opinion. Justin Kernersville, NC
  • Just let me say that this encounter has been entirely professional and most helpful. I liked that I could ask additional questions and get answered in a very short turn around. Esther Woodstock, NY
  • Thank you so much for taking your time and knowledge to support my concerns. Not only did you answer my questions, you even took it a step further with replying with more pertinent information I needed to know. Robin Elkton, Maryland
  • He answered my question promptly and gave me accurate, detailed information. If all of your experts are half as good, you have a great thing going here. Diane Dallas, TX

Meet The Experts:

  • Dr. Y.

    Dr. Y.


    Satisfied Customers:

    I am fellowship trained specializing in general urology and reconstructive urology.
< Last | Next >
  • Dr. Y.'s Avatar

    Dr. Y.


    Satisfied Customers:

    I am fellowship trained specializing in general urology and reconstructive urology.
  • John's Avatar


    Home Appliance Technician

    Satisfied Customers:

    Appliance repair business owner for over 43 years.
  • Tina's Avatar



    Satisfied Customers:

    JD, BBA Over 25 years legal and business experience.
  • GM Tech (Cam)'s Avatar

    GM Tech (Cam)

    GMC Mechanic

    Satisfied Customers:

    GM Grand Master Technician 2007. 14 years experience.
  • dermdoc19's Avatar



    Satisfied Customers:

    30 years practice in general and cosmetic dermatology
  • Dr. Gary's Avatar

    Dr. Gary

    Cat Veterinarian

    Satisfied Customers:

    DVM, Emergency Veterinarian, BS (Physiology)
  • Dr. Pat's Avatar

    Dr. Pat

    Bird Veterinarian

    Satisfied Customers:

    25+ years working primarily or exclusively with birds