If an elevator goes into free fall, assuming there's no friction or anything like that, would it actually float? From what I understand, this would only happen if the elevator falls with an acceleration greater than that of gravity, because in this case it is as if, in the elevator's reference frame, the person moved away from it upwards (since in the reference frame itself it is considered that other things move).

But in the case of free fall, assuming the person was in equilibrium before the free fall of the elevator, I thought of the analogy with the bus accelerating forward and the person "going back" backwards. However, note that in the case of this person, no, he does not accelerate with the bus. Force is applied to the bus. Unlike in the elevator, both the elevator and the person are under the gravitational force, so I conclude that he would not float and his feet would remain on the floor of the elevator, although he would not feel his weight during the free fall. Am I right?

  • $\begingroup$ Related, possible duplicate. $\endgroup$
    – rob
    Dec 26, 2022 at 2:27
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Astronauts in the ISS are in free-fall... $\endgroup$
    – hdhondt
    Dec 26, 2022 at 2:50
  • $\begingroup$ You're obviously neglecting the springiness of tendons, muscles and shoe-rubber, not to mention carpet and underlay. $\endgroup$ Dec 26, 2022 at 5:26

1 Answer 1


The best way to describe what would happen is that the acceleration due to gravity inside the would cease to exist during the fall. So a person who was standing on the floor previously would not suddenly drift upwards, unless he pushed off the floor lightly to do so. He and any other object in the elevator would be weightless (until it hit the ground).


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