How fast is terminal velocity?


Quick Answer

The terminal velocity of a skydiver in freefall is approximately 50 to 60 miles per second or roughly 125 to 135 mph. While the term has been popularized by skydiving enthusiasts, however, the concept of terminal velocity is applicable to the study of physics in general.

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Full Answer

Terminal velocity refers to the fact that, although an object falling on earth is subject to the pull of gravity, there will come a point where the opposite drag on the object from the wind will balance out the force of gravity and no further acceleration will be achieved. The shape of the object affects the dragging effect of the wind and this is why skydivers can change the speed of their fall by changing the shape of their bodies as they fall. When the parachute opens, the terminal velocity is reduced to about 12 mph - or a safe speed to land.

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