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Q & A: Timing Your Parachute

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Most recent answer: 10/22/2007
Q:
Why do parachutist only have to a certain hight to release their parachute. Why cant they release it later or earlier?
- Robert Bennett (age 16)
Queensland
A:
Robert -

In free-fall (i.e. before opening the parachute), a parachutist falls extremely quickly. Using a parachute slows them down - but it can only do it so fast. It takes a certain amount of time for the parachute to slow them down enough to land safely. This is why they can't release it too late. They can release it earlier, though. But this would mean that they would be spending less time in free-fall, which is what most parachutists are sky-diving to get.

-Tamara

(published on 10/22/2007)

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