5. You can jump out of an airplane that is about to crash and catch the baddie who took the last parachute.

November 16, 2009

 200px-PointbreaktheatricalThe names Bond, James Bond. In Moonraker  with Roger Moore (1979) 007 jumps out of a plane without a parachute to avoid an assassination attempt. He catches up with, Jaws, arch-baddie, in mid-air and takes his parachute. Jaws survives his fall by landing on a big top circus tent.200px-Moonrakerposter

In Point Break with FBI agent Johnny Utah, Keanu Reeves, leaps from a skydiving plane after Patrick Swayzes’ characer, Bohdi, who has taken the last parachute. Utah catches Bohdi in mid-air, and after a tense confrontation with a gun, both survive using Bodhi’s chute.

There are more movie and real life stories at Free Fall Website:


What’s the deal? Can Utah really catch Bohdi?

Here are some stats from the  Free Fall Maths link:


Note: We’ll assume Bhodi and Utah have equal horizontal velocities (plane exit velocity plus wind) so the following calculations only involve the vertical or falling velocity. The terminal velocities used for Bhodi and Utah are realistic estimates. We do not need the sky divers weight for these calculations but it can impact on terminal velocity so I have included this data and chute open data for general interest.

skydive 1 Correctionskydive 2 Correctionskydive 3 Correctionskydive 4 Correction


  1. The answer to this question is “Yes”. This was given both a math work-up and a practical test on the show “Mythbusters”.

    • Great! I love Mythbusters. It’s the best science show on TV. But I want to show kids they can work out realistic answers with maths. They don’t have to jump out of a plane. They can do it at home or at school. Cheers Mathspig

    • actually it was busted on mythbusters.

      • Thanks dudeguy, didn’t see that one. Mathspig

      • Actually it’s confirmed: http://mythbustersresults.com/episode94

      • Fantastic. Thanks. Mathspig.

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