Point Break skydiving, fact or fiction?

Point Break skydiving was pretty, well, extraordinary. In fact, it consistently tops the list for Best Skydiving Movie. Who can forget the scene where Johnny (Keanu Reeves) and Bodhi (Patrick Swayze) perform a series of skydive stunts, including skydiving solo with zero instruction, free falling for 90 seconds from 4,000 feet, talking during free fall, and more?

Was it plausible or even possible?

Let's go back to 2007 and the 94th episode of Myth Busters for three pivotal Point Break myths.


#1: A person can free fall for over ninety seconds from a height of 4,000 feet (1,200 m).

The Myth Busters' Build Team dropped a dummy from a plane at a height of 4,000 feet (1,200 m) and measured the amount of time it took for it to hit the ground. They timed the total free fall time at just 31 seconds, which would make the ninety second free fall scene in the movie impossible. MYTH BUSTED


#2: Two people can have a conversation with each other while in free fall.

To test this myth, Grant skydived out of a plane. A skydiving instructor was to approach Grant while he was free falling and then attempt to say a certain phrase to Grant. During the free fall, the instructor yelled the phrase multiple times, but Grant could not hear him because the sound of the air rushing past drowned out his voice. The Build Team concluded that it was impossible to have a conversation in free fall. MYTH BUSTED


#3: By streamlining their body, a person can catch up to another person free falling at terminal velocity in the skydiving position with a fifteen second head-start from 15,000 feet (4,600 m).

The Build Team first performed several small-scale tests using wind tunnels, and demonstrated that objects with a greater surface area do in fact have a slower terminal velocity than objects with equal mass but smaller surface area. For the full-scale test, Tory jumped out of a plane and assumed the skydiving position. Nick, a professional skydiver, gave Tory a fifteen-second head-start and jumped out of the plane after him and assumed a streamlined posture. Twenty seconds after leaving the plane, Nick closed the distance between himself and Tory and passed Tory just as he was deploying his parachute. With such definitive results, the Build Team declared the MYTH CONFIRMED.

So there you have it.  This may make you want to watch Point Break again on Netflix tonight, or find Myth Busters episode #94 on YouTube!