Can a 12 year old tandem skydive in the US? Can you skydive at 13 in the US? 14, 16, 17?! Where do we draw the line? While we know of one skydiving center in the US that allows kids to skydive with parental consent (for a much greater cost), dropzones that choose to be members of the United States Parachute Association (USPA) members uphold strict safety guidelines set by the Federal Aviation Administration, and do NOT allow children to skydive.
Can Kids Go Skydiving in the US?
Just like you have to be 18 years old to get a tattoo, join the military, or do anything else that could be life-changing in the United States, you are also required to be 18 to skydive. You must be of “the age of majority” to be considered mature and logical enough in order to make the decision to assume the risks involved in skydiving, and to have the cognitive ability to understand important training information from your instructor. Here are the main reasons why kids are not permitted to skydive at most skydiving centers in the US:
1. United States Parachute Association Safety Standards
Even if a minor has parental consent, they still must be at least 18 years old to skydive at any USPA member dropzone — like Skydive STL! The USPA has mandated that the minimum skydiving age is 18 and even popular tandem equipment and parachute manufacturers agree. Although a rarity, the USPA has been known to waive the minimum skydiving age in cases of terminally ill individuals through the Make-A-Wish Foundation after careful review and express permission from the equipment manufacturer (if the gear is restricted to 18+).
2. Skydiving Equipment Restrictions
The main manufacturers of tandem skydiving equipment establish regulations for the use of their tandem gear in order to comply with safety standards set by the FAA. These gear manufacturer regulations require those who use the gear (skydiving centers and all instructors) to follow these guidelines or risk losing their license.
There is also an issue when it comes to tandem harness sizing and fit on children. Tandem skydiving harnesses are designed to fit securely on most adult body shapes and sizes. The harness itself is adjustable, but only to a certain extent. This is one of the main reasons why dropzones also have a weight maximum. An ill-fitting tandem skydiving harness would pose a huge safety issue, including the potential to slip out of the harness. Yikes! So, if you’re wondering “Can I take a baby skydiving?”, the answer is a hard NO!
Skydiving is an extreme sport. Therefore, any individual who wishes to partake in skydiving is required to present valid, government-issued photo ID to prove age and to sign a waiver. Not only is there a waiver required by the USPA member dropzone, there is also the tandem skydiving equipment manufacturer’s waiver that must be signed. The waiver is a legally binding contract that serves as a release of liability and assumption of risk. In the United States, an individual must be at least 18 years old to enter into any legally binding contract and a legal guardian cannot waive their child’s rights in order to sign the contract.
What About Non-USPA Member Dropzones?
If a dropzone is not affiliated with the USPA, the skydiving age limit is at the discretion of the skydiving center, the parachute and harness manufacturer, and the individual’s legal guardian. Even if the child willingly decides to skydive (i.e. without being forced or coaxed), the child still needs proof of identification; their parent or legal guardian must provide documented proof of relationship; and BOTH parents must consent and be present on the day of the skydive.
What counrties can you skydive at 12, 14, or anything under 18? Outside of the US, countries such as South Africa (16), Canada (16), and Australia (12) all have dropzones that offer skydiving for kids. The country with the lowest skydiving age is in New Zealand where there is no minimum age! What’s the youngest age to skydive? Although the Guinness World Record book does not currently list the world’s youngest skydiver, the unofficial consensus seems to be around four years old.
Don’t fret! There are alternatives to skydiving if you just can’t wait to feel the freedom of flying. Indoor skydiving wind tunnels are a great way for minors to enjoy skydiving in a closed environment and with a certified wind tunnel instructor nearby to assist them. Wind tunnels do a fantastic job of simulating the freefall portion of a skydive for children as young as 3 years old! This gives you the opportunity to get a taste of what your future skydiving experience will be like while still enjoying the feeling of flying as you await your 18th birthday!
Skydiving is Worth the Wait!
Skydiving has an amazing way of making you feel invincible. Although skydiving is known as a thrilling, adrenaline-pumping experience — it is also a soul-nourishing, inspiring, and life-changing adventure! People who skydive notice a major shift in their overall happiness, confidence, and appreciation for life. The side effects from the release of adrenaline, dopamine, and serotonin will have your brain tingling with excitement and give your body the natural boost it needs. The challenge of skydiving alone gives jumpers the empowerment to take on many of life’s other challenges.