If you’re planning on making a skydive, one of the things you’ll want to inquire about is altitude. Skydiving centers throughout the world exit their airplanes from a myriad of altitudes. Within the skydiving industry, we’ve seen a full spectrum of altitude offerings ranging from 7,000’ right up to 18,000’. So what’s the standard altitude and what should you consider? In this article, we’re going to break down all the aspects of skydiving altitudes.
In the civilian world of skydiving, jumping is most often conducted between the altitudes of 10,000 and 13,500 feet. Skydiving from above 15,000 feet requires the use of oxygen which is why most civilian skydiving operators jump from under that altitude.
If a licensed skydiver were given the choice to jump from between 10,000’ and 13,500’, the great majority of jumpers would take the higher option. The reason: more time in free fall equates to more fun! A 13,500’ skydive allows for approximately one minute of free fall whereas a 10,000’ skydive is around 45 seconds. If you’ve not yet made a skydive, you’ll discover that both options go by really (really) fast! So, the higher option is most preferred by the great majority of skydivers and first-timers!
At Skydive Paraclete XP, we jump from 13,500’ from a myriad of aircraft. We are fortunate to have one of the largest skydiving fleets of aircraft on the east coast and country. Skydivers and first-timers love the aircraft we fly for two primary reasons: spaciousness and speed in which to get to the desired jump altitude.
Skydiving above 15,000’ isn’t uncommon. Jumping from above 15,000’ is often done by highly experienced skydivers who conduct large formation skydives. In the video below, this group of skydivers exit from an incredible 19,000’! The key consideration for these higher altitude jumps is the use of oxygen. At higher altitudes, the air becomes thinner and if a skydiver doesn’t get enough oxygen, they can suffer from the effects of hypoxia.
Hypoxia is a condition in which the body or a region of the body is deprived of adequate oxygen supply at the tissue level. Becoming hypoxic can lead to altitude sickness which can result in potentially fatal complications: high altitude pulmonary edema (HAPE) and high altitude cerebral edema (HACE). Yikes!
The key takeaway here is to be sure to jump with oxygen if skydiving at higher altitudes!
The terms HALO (high altitude, low opening) and HAHO (high altitude and high opening) are terms associated with military free fall (MFF) skydiving.
In the HALO technique, the jumper deploys their parachute at a low altitude after free-falling for a period of time. Using the HAHO technique, the jumper opens their parachute at a high altitude shortly after exiting the aircraft.
In military operations, HALO is also used for delivering equipment, supplies, or personnel, while HAHO is generally used exclusively for personnel. In typical HALO/HAHO insertions military parachutists jump from altitudes between 15,000’ and 35,000’!