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Skydiving Altitude & Airplanes

Tandem Skydiving

Welcome to the high-flying world of skydiving! The magic of a skydive begins long before you exit the plane, it starts the moment you book and gets REAL when you’re ascending in the skydiving aircraft. Can skydiving airplanes go as high as commercial jets? Do some of them max out at certain altitudes? CAN YOU BREATHE UP THERE!? Hehe, yes, calm down. 

Whether you’re a seasoned jumper or just curious about the logistics of our sport, get ready to take your skydiving knowledge to new heights. 

How High Do You Skydive From? 

How high is skydiving? Well, it depends. The most prominent determining factor for the altitude of skydiving is the aircraft that’s being used. You can skydive anywhere between approximately half a mile up in the sky to over seven miles from our lovely Mother Earth! We know; that’s a pretty wide range. Most civilian skydives take place between 3,500 to 13,500 feet AGL.

What’s AGL? Above Ground Level – the distance you are in the air as compared to the ground. 

At what height do you skydive out of a plane at Skydive California? We casually take our jumpers to 13,000 feet regularly (NBD *insert side eye emoji*). 

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What’s The Best Skydiving Airplane? 

The best skydiving aircraft are those that give the best of all worlds: high altitude, enough space to be comfortable, a quick climb rate, and a large door! Here at Skydive California, we have a Cessna Caravan and a Cessna-182 – which are both fabulous jump planes. 

Why Are Caravans Awesome Jump Planes? 

They’re fast! The climb rate of a Caravan is anywhere from 1,000 to 1,300 feet per minute. This means that if we jump from 13,000 feet, it will take about 10 to 13 minutes to get to exit altitude. 

They’re big! This means it’s possible for tandem pairs (AKA, friends) to get hyped up in the plane alongside one another, and for solo jumpers to send big ways with more than a dozen members of their sky fam! The bandwidth of the Caravan also allows for ample legroom and leaves no one feeling too pressed for space. 

The door is a 10/10. While tandem students don’t need to worry about the size of the door, instructors and fun jumpers do! A larger door gives more exit options for experienced skydivers and gives tandem instructors more wiggle room – it’s a good thing all around. 

Is There A Minimum Height Of Skydiving? 

What altitude do planes fly when skydiving? Without getting too much into the nitty-gritty of altitude logistics, the minimum height for a skydive depends on the level of the jumper, but generally people don’t jump from below 3,500 feet AGL.

Below are the minimum opening altitudes for skydivers with various experience – this is the altitude they must have an open parachute by. 

USPA C & D License Holders: 2,500 ft AGL (can be waived to less)

USPA B-License Holders: 2,500 ft AGL

All Students & USPA A-License Holders: 3,000 ft AGL

Tandem Skydivers: 5,000 ft AGL

Many jumpers opt to have their canopies open above the minimum altitude. This gives them more time to ensure they’re in a good spot for landing and dealing with any unforeseen circumstances (which is why we have two parachutes)! 

Is There A Maximum Height Of Skydiving? 

Can you skydive from 40,000 feet? Well … yes! High Altitude Low Opening (HALO) jumps are prominent bucket-list items for many first-time jumpers. A HALO jump happens from over 15,000 feet. This height requires supplemental oxygen on board the aircraft because the air gets a weeee bit thin up there! 

How tall is too tall to skydive … can you skydive out of a 747?! Actually, yes, yes, you technically could! And while you could skydive from a 747 with the correct equipment, it’s not something that happens. And you definitely cannot just willy-nilly leap from a commercial jet that hasn’t been transformed into a skydiving plane – they’re pressurized! 

The world record for highest tandem skydive was just set in 2024 at West Tennessee Skydiving at 42,017 feet – WILD! At this height, the air temperature was around negative 70°F. BRRR! Although the extra freefall may be fun, that’s a bit too chilly for us – but kudos to them! We’ll stick with our sunny 13K and solid 45-60 seconds of freefall thank ya very much. And we’d love for YOU to come jump with us, too!

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What’s The Right Altitude For Me? 

When picking your ideal skydiving altitude, consider the aircraft in question and what you’re seeking from the experience. All skydives are FABULOUS, but think about what you desire. Does a smaller plane and a 10,000-foot exit with less time in freefall suit your fancy? Is an extreme HALO jump with extra equipment more your vibe? 

We see 13K as the sweet spot of skydiving altitudes! Tandem skydives typically range between a 10,000-foot and 14,000-foot exit point, putting 13,000 feet at that *chef’s kiss* status. With a long enough freefall to experience the stunning views, but not so long that it becomes overwhelming for beginners, this altitude gives the perfect balance of excitement and comfort. 

Ready to soar to new heights and make your wildest dreams a reality? Book today! 

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