How to work with Terminal Velocity

If you jump out of a plane, you will accelerate towards the Earth for a while. The speed at which you fall will eventually even out as a result of air resistance. This is known as terminal velocity. For a human being, this is reached at about 125 mph, for the average raindrop it is around 18 mph. It will take you around 14 seconds to reach this speed if you are in normal atmospheric pressure. If you jump at higher altitudes, where the air is less dense – you can fall even faster!

In October 2012, skydiver Felix Baumgartner  fell to Earth at a supersonic speed of 1,357.6 km/h (843.6 mi/h), becoming the first human to break the sound barrier in free-fall. He also broke the record for the fastest speed in free-fall. He skydived from a balloon on the edge of space, breaking 8 world records in one jump.

If you are studying GCSE Science and need some extra help with understanding terminal velocity, try our new guide “How to work with Terminal Velocity”. It explains what happens in terms of forces when you jump out of a plane. Included are questions for you to try, and answers for you to check your understanding.
Click the picture below to see the guide.

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