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When a parachute opens does the sky diver go up?

When a parachute opens does the sky diver go up?

Rob from Gloucestershire (age 5-14)

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4 Responses

  1. Categorically NOT. The parachute decreases the downward speed dramatically. The parachutist experiences a consequent force upwards BUT this only slows the falling speed. It is however a common misconception produced by the fact that most films are made by a film maker who continues to fall at the high speed. If you get the chance have a go on “Detanator” at Thorpe Park. You’ll get the picture!

  2. Hi Rob
    No, the parachutist does not go up. The skydiver is being filmed by another skydiver going down at the same speed (about 120mph) when the skydiver opens his parachute he slows down very rapidly to about 3 metres per second but the photographer continues on down at 120mph and it seems as though the other person has gone up.

  3. Yes, he will for a fraction of a second, I only know this because I was told so by my teacher when I was studying abou forces.

  4. No, the parachutist is still going down pulled by GRAVITY but the parachute creates DRAG which slows the fall. The word ‘Parachute’ comes from French and Latin words ‘para’ meaning against and ‘chute’ meaning fall. So it is working against the fall. If the parchutist were to go up another force called LIFT would be needed. Aircraft such as balloons and aeroplanes rely on Lift to go up. Modern parachutes allow the parachutist to control the rate and direction of fall but they always end up on the ground!

    Peter Halford, Science and Technology Teacher, Imperial War Museum Duxford.

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