Al's been working on his power armor, and has started thinking about combat drops. He'd considered parachutes to facilitate this, but then he thought of the Square-Cube Law and had a thought: are parachutes really necessary?

Now, the question is a bit more than just that. He's not the only critter out there who will be needing to drop into combat, and he can't make powered armor for everyone. The larger creatures he works with (badgers, otters, et cetera) will have to make do with parachutes, but he's looking for a better option for smaller critters (who may just be too small for parachutes to get them to the ground at any reasonable pace). So, for a creature of about 1-2 lbs,

  1. Would a parachute be completely unnecessary (or, funnier still, too effective to reach the ground any time soon)?
  2. If a parachute is not completely unnecessary, is there a simpler alternative with a reasonable rate of success?

(Also I could use some help with tags for this question, because I found a bunch of stuff for flight, but not much for falling.)

  • $\begingroup$ I don't know if it's simpler, but you could always do a bit of genetic engineering on your smaller critters. Mix in some flying squirrel genes - I'm assuming they're mammals? $\endgroup$
    – jamesqf
    Apr 3, 2016 at 5:41
  • $\begingroup$ Who's Al, and are we supposed to know that he's the size of a grasshopper or something? $\endgroup$
    – JDługosz
    Apr 3, 2016 at 15:29
  • $\begingroup$ Flying squirrels. An army of flying squirrels with little squirrel lasers. $\endgroup$ Apr 3, 2016 at 18:49
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    $\begingroup$ @JDługosz I suppose that's worthy of an edit. The link on "power armor" leads back to the question introducing Al, but that hotlink should contain the entirety of that first clause so it's a bit more clear. $\endgroup$ Apr 3, 2016 at 22:04
  • $\begingroup$ You could put such smaller critters into a group parachute so they have the Weight for a reasonable pace ! :) $\endgroup$
    – if-trubite
    Apr 4, 2016 at 14:03

2 Answers 2


What about wingsuits?

Flying squirrels have natural wingsuits and that suits them fine, so if you make artificial ones that should suffice for small animals. Wingsuits are more maneuverable than parachutes anyway and can help your critter paratroopers avoid being shot at.

Restrictions may apply due to leg length relative to body size. Rats, squirrels, and other fast-running animals should be fine. Hedgehogs may still have problems. Cats may be outliers on the weight to terminal velocity curve, they can already survive terminal velocity falls sometimes (albeit with injuries) and if you gave one a wingsuit (and the brains to use it) it may be able to land safely.


I suggest reading this article about parachutes and use this simple parachute calculator.

Yes, depending on the height of the fall, critters weighing a pound or more would require parachutes. However the parachutes' sizes would vary, depending on their weights.

Another (simple) option would be to make a basket, fill it with critters which together weigh as much as a human would, then use a parachute used by humans to safely land them all together.


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