The average skydiver falls at somewhere between 110 and 130 miles per hour in the “standard” face to earth position.
It takes very roughly 10 seconds to fall the first 1,000 feet and then about 5 seconds for every subsequent 1,000 feet – so if an experienced skydiver falls for about 10,000 feet before deploying their parachute they will have had roughly 60 seconds of freefall.
Different people fall at slightly different rates because different sizes and shapes of people create more or less air-resistance. As you fall through the air you create air-resistance and have air passing around your body at high speeds. This is referred to in the sport as the “relative wind”.
Essentially you feel a great deal of wind as you fall through the air at high speed. A less air-resistant – more aero dynamic shape (such as small person with a pot belly) will generally fall faster than someone with a similar mass – but who is tall with long arms and legs. As you become a more experienced skydiver you will learn how to alter your fall rate by making changes to your body position. By altering your body position you effect your air resistance and subsequently the rate at which you fall. It is a common MYTH that all objects fall at the same rate, this rule only applies in an absolute vacuum, where there is no resistance – here on earth we have air!