What Happens If You Open a Parachute Too Early
opening a parachute too early can be risky

Skydiving can be an amazing experience for every adrenaline junkie and extreme sports lover. It gives us a chance to see a world from a different perspective, literally. The most important part of the skydiving gear is a parachute, and it ensures your adventure doesn’t turn into a disaster.

There are different skydiving altitudes as well as different heights to open a parachute. One of the FQAs regarding this topic is what happens if the parachute is opened too early.

If you open a parachute too early the least bad scenario that can happen is a long, cold, and unpleasant canopy ride. Because of the temperature change, and winds, you can feel discomfort and may even miss a drop zone point. In the worst case, you can endanger your life. 

So, today we are going to talk about different skydiving altitudes, parachute handling, and some things that might affect your canopy ride.

Table of Contents

Highest Height You Can Open a Parachute

When it comes to the highest height at which someone can open a parachute, that may depend on the state you’re performing a jump at. In the US, the highest altitude you can jump is 18,000 feet. Since we’re on the topic, click here to find out how height affects your trusty parachute.

The skydiving lasts for about 2 minutes, so you’ll have a pretty long freefall. After that, you’ll be under the canopy for a couple more minutes and land afterward.

What Is the Minimum Altitude to Deploy a Parachute?

The recommended minimum deployment altitude depends upon which license you have, according to the US Parachute Association. The minimum altitude that is considered safe using a reserve parachute on a sport parachute system is 1000ft. And this is done only in emergency case scenarios, such as loss of aircraft power.

How Long Does It Take a Parachute to Open?

During all testing, the parachute must be able to fully open within 3 seconds of activation. For lower altitudes, this often means that the parachute will be open at about 300ft-400ft.

What Happens If You Open a Parachute Too Early?

The first thing to have in mind, “too early” is a term that is not so easily determined in the skydiving world. As we mentioned before, the skydive jumping altitudes may differ depending on skill level. But, if we take a usual jump altitude to be 12,500ft, you must know there are two rules. 

  1. Temperature decreases as the altitudes are higher. 
  2. The descent canopy speed is about 3280ft per 5 minutes. 

Having this in mind, you may consider the following situations if you open the parachute this early.

Freezing Temperatures

At 12,500ft air temperature is 32F, which is the freezing point of water. Pretty cold, right. So, if you decide to open your parachute at that height, it will be chilly, and instead of descending faster to the warmer temperatures, you’ll need five minutes to come from freezing winter-cold to 41F autumn-like temperature.

Thin Air

In the higher altitudes, the air is thinner. This may result in hypoxia (low oxygen levels in your tissues), which can be quite uncomfortable. Hypoxia will fade as you descend to thicker air, but you may still feel cold and miserable.

Sore Body Parts

You will probably get sore thighs. Flying a parachute is not comfortable, because all of your body weight will linger on your legs. So, hanging 20 minutes in the air doesn’t sound too appealing.

Missing the Drop Zone

You may also expect to drift off the drop zone. The winds in high altitudes can be heavy. So, unless you direct your parachute continuously, they may blow you in the other direction. Bear in mind, the wind blowing might make you feel even colder.

Rough Landing

The landing will be rough. If you’re flying 20 minutes under the canopy, you may feel mentally exhausted, as you will need to be aware of the airspace, and navigation. If you are not experienced in this field, your concentration may be lowered.

What Can Go Wrong During Skydiving

Skydiving is a very popular air sport. So, when you decide to try it out you need to make sure you’re aware of possible malfunctions that can happen in the air and some factors that can cause them. So, take a look at some of them.always perform skydiving with an instructor

Parachute Malfunction

When it comes to these problems, there are two points. Partial and total parachute malfunction. A partial malfunction can be reversed, while a total one means more serious problems with canopy deployment. These malfunctions can be a result of bad packing, incorrect body positions, or broken equipment.

An experienced skydiver may be able to deal with a partial malfunction, but the risk is high. Encountering the chute problem may be the scariest thing that can happen to a person in the air. Luckily, there is a backup parachute that can be used.

But, there is no guarantee of success. So, you must know all the procedures for both partial and total failures before even attempting to skydive. Otherwise, you are putting your life at risk.


During skydiving, you will fall through the air at incredibly fast speeds. So, even the most experienced air sports athletes can pass out. As you may assume, these blackouts can have catastrophic consequences.

Because of that, it is best to follow all the rules and precautions regarding skydiving before your take-off. So, if you are prone to blackouts, afraid of height, or high speeds, it’s best to skip flying and skydiving.

Also, if you are overweight, epileptic, addicted to drugs or alcohol, or have some heart disease you should avoid skydiving.

Things to Have in Mind

Even if you don’t have any of the mentioned conditions you must be aware that people’s bodies can react very differently to high altitudes and high speeds, so you must be prepared to be surprised.

Passing out while falling through the sky is a traumatic experience. Because of this, people usually partner up for their first time in the skies. No amount of training can prepare you or predict how exactly your body will react during skydiving.

Broken Gear

Broken flying or landing gear can lead to disaster. Once in the air, you can’t do anything about the gear malfunction. So, before any skydive attempt, you must make sure your gear is functional and check it for any possible defects.

Lack of Education

Every sports activity requires some sort of education regarding the rules. But, with air sports such as skydiving, these rules might save your life. Therefore it is necessary to know everything about the equipment, technique, and surroundings.

If you skip the educational part, you may find yourself in a life-threatening situation and might not even be aware of it. So, to avoid and minimize the chance of disaster, be sure to educate yourself before performing any extreme sport.

Weather Conditions

Weather can be a problem during any sports activity, but it can endanger people’s lives in air sports. Storms, lightning, even fog, can make so many obstacles for safe flying and skydiving. It’s mandatory to check with the Federal Aviation Administration weather-briefing center before any flying activity.

That way you will know whether it is safe to operate at the desired elevations. Also, you need to be sure that the landing ground is not slippery, as you will land on your feet when skydiving. The slippery ground can make that impossible and risky.

Falling to the Ground

Although falling primarily occurs during ballooning, paragliding, and hang gliding, all air sports have the risk of it. So, to make sure you’re safe and sound, you need to properly secure yourself with the right gear and don’t try to play around with it.

Sometimes accidents happen out of curiosity and lack of attention. When you are skydiving there is no space for those kinds of things, as they can cost you your safety.

Landing Problems

Even though many air sports disasters happen in the air, there is also a huge chance of landing failures. Landing can be very tricky to master, and it constantly causes fatalities during almost all air sports.

More than half of all accidents in hang gliding happen during the landing. When it comes to skydiving, you must pay attention to the landing angle because the wrong angle can cause a problem for a parachute.

These mistakes can cause serious injuries and even death. The most fatal skydiving outcomes are the result of improper landings. So, before even considering skydiving make sure to learn everything about the right ways to land safely.

Bottom Line

Skydiving can be a great source of adrenaline rush and excitement for some people. But before trying it out, you must be aware that this is a very extreme activity that requires a healthy body and mind. If you choose to skydive, you must do it with an official instructor at some official skydiving center.

Do not under any circumstances try skydiving on your own. When deploying a parachute, don’t experiment with too early or too late parachute activation, as it can be fatal.

Listen to your instructor and use the parachute according to the official instructions to avoid any possible accidents. After you’ve taken all the necessary measures and training, you can really enjoy this amazing sports activity and expand your comfort zone limits.

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