This video from last week shows stuntman Gary Connery falling 2400 feet without a parachute and surviving to tell the tale. This would be a great story in a lesson on forces with any age student.

The students could:

  • Name the forces acting on him as he fell.
  • Calculate his average speed by using time from the video clip and using the speed equation (2400 feet = 731.52 m). As he fell for around 19 seconds this makes it an incredible 38.5 m/s (86 mph)!
  • Draw force diagrams for when he just left the aeroplane (unbalanced forces), when he was at terminal velocity (balanced forces) and when he had just hit the boxes (unbalanced).
  • Explain why his suit helped him survive the fall. More able students can link forces, particles and energy in this explanation.
  • Calculate his potential energy when he was in the plane (mgh). Gary is approximately 84 kg.
  • Sketch a velocity/time graph for the fall.

If you have any other ideas – please leave a comment and share!