The Difference Between Skydiving from 9,000 and 18,000

Skydiving Altitudes at 9,000 and 18,000 Feet

Thursday, December 20, 2018

Skydive Tecumseh offers it all: top-notch facilities, a stellar student training program, and skydiving from not one but THREE different altitudes. When it comes to skydiving altitude at Skydive Tecumseh, you’ve got options. Trying to decide on a tandem skydive but unsure of just where the difference between 9,000’ and 18,000’ lies, keep reading!

Altitudes are all relative!

A bare-bones difference between 9,000 ft and 18,000 ft is just how high you go. We’re not patronizing you here. We genuinely want to put it all in perspective! So, here’s what the different heights put you relative to. A tandem skydive from 9,000’ is about 1.7 miles above the earth, about 30 times the length of a football field, and around twenty times as tall as The Great Pyramid of Giza! A skydive from 18,000’? Well, it puts you roughly 3.4 miles above the earth and at nearly the height of Mount Kilimanjaro (the world’s tallest freestanding mountain). Really, no matter how you slice it, a tandem skydive from either height is pretty impressive!

Freefall Time

Freefall Time

The highest skydive offered at Skydive Tecumseh (and in fact the highest skydive offered in Michigan) is from a height of 18,000 feet. One of the main differences in a skydive from 9,000’ and 18000’ is the amount of time spent in freefall. The rush of freefall at 120mph is felt for around 80 seconds on a skydive from 18000’ and about 45 seconds from 9,000’.  After the parachute is deployed, regardless of whether you jumped from 9,000’ or 18,000’, you will get to experience a scenic 4-6-minute ride to the ground. While freefall is always a rush, you can choose just how exciting or docile your parachute ride will be (just make sure you tell your instructor ahead of time).

Different Rides (Sometimes)

The difference in high altitude skydiving from 18,000’ and a skydive from 9,000’ is your ride to altitude. A skydive to 18,000’ at Skydive Tecumseh, requires the exclusive use of a turbine aircraft called a Beechcraft King Air. When making a skydive from 9,000’, sometimes, an aircraft called a Cessna-182 is used. While it’s not quite the rocket ship and quick ride to altitude that the King Air is, the Cessna-182 is considered the workhorse, staple aircraft of the skydiving industry. Ask around. Almost every skydiver has made at least one jump from a Cessna-182. You see, in skydiving, jumping from different aircraft is a lot like collecting stamps! Over time, skydivers are looking to accrue jumps from as many aircraft as possible! The difference between high altitude skydiving from 18,000’ and a jump from 9,000’ is which one you start with.

Supplemental Oxygen

Supplemental Oxygen

A big difference between a skydive from 9,000’ and 18,000’ is the need for supplemental oxygen. Ever hear that the air up high is thinner? When it comes to high altitude skydiving, it’s not that the air at altitude skipped dinner. Rather, the air at 18,000’ is just much less dense.

Here’s the science behind it all. As you increase altitude, pressure decreases. The result is that in any given volume of air there are fewer molecules present. Essentially, there is less oxygen up there to breathe! When making a jump from a skydiving altitude of 18,000’ individuals are required to use supplemental oxygen as a precaution to keep from experiencing something called hypoxia, or in other words, an oxygen deficiency. This makes for a pretty unique experience. Skydives from 9,000’ and 14,000’ do not require this extra step. While some people enjoy the novelty of the experience jumping from 18,000’ and using oxygen, high altitude skydiving is not for everyone!

Some people like taking baby steps, and maybe starting with a 9,000’ tandem skydive is the way to go for them. Others have the “Go Big or Go Home” mentality and want to do the highest skydive they possibly can. It doesn’t matter where on the spectrum you fall, at Skydive Tecumseh, we’ll make your entire experience one to remember no matter the altitude!

Tandem Skydiver in freefall at Skydive Tecumseh

On Labor Day my daughter took our first jump. She got me it for my 62nd birthday to check off my bucket list. It was the most intense adrenaline rush I have ever experienced. James and Amber (my daughters tandem partner) were very professional and made our jumps fantastic. We will be back again and hope to bring a group with us. Tremendous experience.

John Gay