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Math in Parachuting and Skydiving

  1. May 15, 2004 #1
    Hi, I've got a project for year 9 maths at my school where we got to choose our own topic and basically have to research most of the maths involved in it. I chose skydiving and parachuting. I'm getting a bit lost and having a little difficulty in finding useful information on the web, so I was wondering if anyone here could offer a little generic help. I don't have any particular question, I just kind of need a push in the right direction. Anything on terminal velocity, air resistance, factors put into consideration in the construction of parachutes would be fantastic. I think I'd also find any formulas/equations very useful. Thank you so much, I'll be eternally grateful to any assistance given.
  2. jcsd
  3. May 19, 2004 #2
    skydiving and parachuting eh?
    The main thing you will want to consider is terminal velocity.
    Terminal velocity is the maximum speed one will reach while falling in free fall (falling where the force of gravity is equal to the force of air resistance), terminal velocity requires some physics, and im not sure how fluent you are with this - if its grade 9 math, so i will make it simple.

    First, draw a picture - i am too lazy to do so. You will see that there are two forces, air resistance and gravity - both pulling in opposite directions

    The equation for gravity if Force = mass * gravity (F=mg)
    The equation for air resistance is very complicated - mabye second year university level stuff.

    But to sum it up, the formula for air resistance depends on your surface area - if you are falling in a ball you will fall fast, if you are falling flat out completely outstretched - your terminal velocity will be slower.

    Paracheuting just creates more surface area (hence you can land without dying)
    Skydiving creates less surface area (you are falling completely straight), thus your terminal velocitity will be higher.

    In fact, people have actually sucessfully landed without out parachutes (From like 10 000feet up) simply by spreading themselves out, and other techniques (snow, etc.)

    Yup, good luck.
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