Terminal Drop:

The terminal drop refers to a phenomenon commonly observed in parachute landings, where the descent speed of a parachutist suddenly increases just before touchdown.


During a parachute landing, the parachutist experiences a gradual deceleration as they approach the ground. However, in some cases, just before reaching the ground, there is a sudden increase in descent speed, leading to a harder and potentially hazardous landing.


Several factors contribute to a terminal drop:

  1. Ground Effect: As the parachutist gets closer to the ground, the airflow becomes compressed between the parachute and the ground. This compression generates additional lift, which partially offsets the effect of gravity. When the parachutist is very close to the ground, this lift suddenly diminishes, causing a drop in descent speed.
  2. Parachute Dynamics: The dynamics of the parachute itself, such as shape changes or partial collapses, can also affect the descent speed. Sudden disturbances or changes in the parachute’s behavior may lead to a terminal drop.
  3. Wind Gusts: Sudden gusts of wind, especially near the ground, can significantly impact the parachutist’s descent speed. These gusts can accelerate the parachutist just before landing, causing a terminal drop.


The terminal drop can have various implications, including:

  • Increased Injury Risk: The sudden increase in descent speed can result in a harder landing, leading to a higher risk of injuries for the parachutist.
  • Equipment Damage: The high impact forces associated with a terminal drop can potentially damage the parachute and other equipment.
  • Avoidance Measures: Understanding the causes and characteristics of terminal drop helps in implementing strategies and techniques to minimize the occurrence of such events during parachute landings.

Overall, the terminal drop is an important phenomenon to consider in parachute landings as it can significantly impact the safety and well-being of parachutists.