How Does A Parachute Slow You Down When Skydiving?
The sensation of freefalling at terminal velocity – around 200kms per hour – is an adrenalin rush like no other, but as any skydiver will tell you, the sensation of floating back down to earth once the parachute has been released is an equally mind-blowing experience.
Parachutes typically reduce terminal velocity by around 90%, so you and your tandem instructor can gently float back to terra firma at the more sedate and relaxing pace of around 20kms per hour.
But just how does a parachute slow you down?
How a Parachute Works
Unlike the round chutes of yesteryear, modern parachutes are rectangular and they operate on the principle of air resistance.
They’re made of nylon and comprise a series of linked chambers or cells which are open at the front. As soon as the compressed parachute is deployed and opens up, air is forced into each of these cells, inflating and expanding them to create a sturdy canopy.
The parachute itself is made from nylon which has been chemically treated to be less porous and therefore more air-resistant.
How Does a Parachute Slow You Down?
To the uninitiated, it may seem like a parachute inflates with a simple tug on a cord. Of course, our professional tandem instructors make it look simple, but deployment is actually a staged sequence which starts with the release of a mini-parachute.
This mini-chute is known as a pilot chute or drogue and the instructor releases it after jumping out of the plane. Its job is to catch air and slow things down initially as well as create sufficient drag force to tug the main parachute from its container.
Once the drogue is open overhead, the tandem instructor then pulls a handle to release the system holding the parachute in place. The force from the drogue literally does the rest, leaving the two of you to enjoy the ride!
It’s good to know that all our Skydive Geronimo professional tandem instructors are fully certified and highly experienced (they each have more than 4 000 jumps under their belts) and they pack their own parachutes.
What Does the Tandem Instructor Do to Slow the Parachute Down?
There are super-strong steering lines attached to the underside of the parachute which have toggles on them. By holding on to these toggles and pulling down on either side, the instructor is able to control the direction of the parachute. Tugging on the left one makes the parachute turn left, and tugging on the right side initiates a right turn.
Firmly tugging on both steering toggles simultaneously reduces the rate of descent by flattening the canopy.
This is called ‘flaring’ and it allows for a gentle, controlled touchdown. And if you’re doing a tandem jump with Skydive Geronimo, that means a soft landing on a pristine white beach on the idyllic paradise of Rottnest Island!
Find Out More
Think your heart rate will settle when your parachute slows down? Why not put it to the test.
If you’re a newbie to this incredible sport or just want to find out a bit more about what’s involved in a tandem skydive, you’ll find this article on your first skydive informative and helpful.
Come and join us for Australia’s best beach skydive.
We guarantee you’ll have one of the best experiences of your life – plus you’ll get a lifetime of magic memories. Check out our website to discover our awesome packages for skydiving at Rottnest, book online or contact our friendly Skydive Geronimo team via email or on the phone. Hope to fly together soon!