Skip to Content

Skydiving Heights Explained


We see you out there, looking out your office window and up at that passing airplane! We can read your mind. You’re curious about one burning question: Just how high do you skydive from? 

Well, your wish is our command. We’re here to answer that for you. Magic.

The easiest answer is that the most common jump altitude is around 10,000 feet. But guess what? At Skydive California we jump from 13,000 feet! Skydiving heights, as it turns out, are not one-size-fits-all. A skydiving exit could be from as low as 3,000 feet or as high as a literally stratospheric 40-grand!

Let’s get into it, shall we?

How High Do Skydivers Jump From?

The sky is, quite literally, the limit. (Okay — maybe it isn’t. There have, of course, been a couple of jumps executed from actual-factual space …) We wouldn’t leave you hanging with a shruggy “it depends,” but bear with us: there are a few factors in play that determine how high up you go when skydiving. Let’s look at ‘em. 

Aircraft Type

Some aircraft are spacious and powerful, like our meticulously maintained Caravan. It gets to an altitude of 13,000 feet in about 15 easy breezy minutes. The most common aircraft in the skydiving industry, the Cessna 182, is a fair bit smaller and maxes out at 10,000 feet.


If there are clouds up top, safety protocols dictate that we won’t go above them. Skydivers need to have an unobstructed view of the ground and one another. If a cloud bank comes in, dropzone operations may determine that exiting from an altitude below them is the best choice.

How High Are Skydiving Jumps? | Skydive California

Experience Level + Goal

Experience comes into play, too. Skydive height for a tandem student vs. a licensed, experienced jumper may differ depending on goals and protocols. Tandem jumps, where a tandem instructor’s got your back (literally!), can occur between 10,000 and 13,000 feet. This range ensures a safe distance between tandem pairs and gives the instructor ample time to deploy the parachute. 

Student jumpers and licensed skydivers may jump out lower, called a hop n’ pop. Those working on freefall skills, skydiving tricks, or practicing specific skydiving disciplines aim to get out as high up as possible.

How High Up Is Skydive California’s Exit Altitude?

How high is skydiving at our dropzone? Due to our aforementioned beast of an aircraft, we take our delighted skyfamily right up to 13,000 feet as standard. *brushes off shoulder*

What’s the Top of the Heap?

At the time of publication, the highest altitude at which a legal, licensed, civilian dropzone was able to open an aircraft door for adventuring solo skydivers was about 41,000 feet above ground level. Make no mistake: this type of jump is crazy-expensive, uncomfortable, vanishingly rare due to the air traffic permissions involved … and one heck of a bucket list item. Let’s just put it this way: How high can you skydive without oxygen? Around 15,000 feet. You do the math!

While a skydive height of up to 15,000 feet can be achieved without requiring oxygen masks for everyone on board, once you get up above 12,000 feet, the air starts to get a little thin. At 15,000, supplemental oxygen is mandatory. At 41,000, there’s a whole world of gear required to make an unpressurized skydiving aircraft suitable for human occupation, and a mask is required for much of the following freefall.

Skydive California Skydiver Having Fun

Where’s Rock Bottom?

Okay, so now that we know the highest altitude you can skydive from; how about the question of what is the lowest you can skydive from? As it turns out, around 3,500 feet is the generally accepted lowball number. That altitude, while skinny, provides enough time to open a parachute. Going lower — while possible — isn’t recommended.

How Long Do You Freefall With Skydiving Altitudes in the Normal Range?

As you might imagine, the amount of time you get to “superhero it up” in freefall varies based on how high you exit the aircraft and when your parachute is deployed. Exiting at 10,000 feet (nearly 2 miles above the earth) delivers an enjoyable 30 seconds of freefall.

From 13,000 feet (2.5 miles up), you’re looking at about a full minute of fabulous freefall. Absolute bliss.

Here’s our question for you, then: are you ready to aim high? Join us for the leap of a lifetime – book your tandem skydive at Skydive California and leave those limits behind! Blue skies, high flyers!

Ready to Fly?

Book Your Skydive

Connect With Us!

Gifts CardsBook Now!
tandem skydivers over san francisco

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Join our mailing list to receive the latest news and updates from Skydive California.

You have Successfully Subscribed!