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Question

# Skydivers, flying over sea-level ground, typically jump at about 8000 ft altitude and free-fall spread-eagled until they open their chutes at about 2000 ft. They take about 10 s to reach terminal velocity. Estimate how many seconds of free-fall they enjoy if (a) they fall spread-eagled or (b) they fall feet first? Assume a total skydiver weight of 220 lbf.

Solution

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The time can be solved by adding the time before it reaches terminal velocity and the time before the parachute opens. Solve first the terminal velocity by summing up the forces acting on the parachute. Let the skydiver be represented as a circle. The figure below shows the forces acting on the skydiver which are the weight $W$ and the drag force $F_D$.

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