To jump out of an airplane at dropzones that are members of the United States Parachute Association (USPA) you need to be at least 18 years old. You might be thinking that there isn’t much difference between someone who is 18 and 16, or perhaps even 14 – but there are a few sensible reasons that add up to why 18 is the minimum age to skydive in the US. Here at Skydive STL in St. Louis, we are an affiliated USPA dropzone and thereby abide by the USPA basic safety requirements. Here is a quick look at the main considerations relating to the age limits of skydiving.
Skydiving Equipment – Size, Fit, Safety
The issue of equipment as it relates to age is multi-faceted. The primary gear manufacturer in the world for tandem skydiving requires that all instructors and tandem students be no less than 18 years of age. Any skydiving center or instructor who jumps with a minor on that equipment could be at risk of losing the license needed to jump with it.
The second area that equipment poses an issue with age is its sizing. Tandem harnesses are adjustable and designed to fit securely on most adult body shapes. Standard tandem harnesses generally do not fit children which would pose a safety issue. At dropzones or countries where minors are able to jump, custom harnesses have been created to allow the activity to be done safely.
Skydiving Liability Issues
Though statistically rare, skydiving does pose a risk of either serious injury or death. It’s no secret that the US is a litigious society and, as a result, lawyers advise skydiving companies to avoid jumping with minors even with written parental consent. Another consideration is the cost associated with a skydiving company needing to defend itself in a lawsuit. The expense of hiring an aviation or skydiving specific attorney is expensive and so dropzones must minimize this risk wherever possible.
Is There a Maximum Skydiving Age?
While there is a minimum age for skydiving, there is no upper age limit. The technology of skydiving equipment and the advanced training of today’s skydiving instructors makes it possible for many senior citizens to enjoy the thrill of skydiving. In fact, the oldest person to ever skydive is 103! Of course, physical and mental fitness is a key factor in this.
If you want to make a jump with us but have concerns relating to age (or anything else), the best thing to do is give us a call so we can answer your questions. You may even be able to speak directly with the instructor who will take you up for your skydive. Also, if you have any medical considerations, speak to your doctor first. We are experts at the skydiving part, and we want everyone to jump – but we are not medical professionals.
Where Can You Skydive Under 18?
While the majority of skydiving centers in the US do require guests to be at least 18 years of age, there are a few that take minors. These individual dropzones are not members of the United States Parachute Association and use tandem equipment built by a manufacturer that doesn’t mandate an age minimum.
Special waivers for minors can be applied for with the USPA. These jumps are usually termed as “Make a Wish Jumps” by families who have family members battling a serious disease.
Another option to jump as a minor is to visit a different country where this is permitted. Here is a list of countries that permit skydiving under the age of 18:
United Kingdom – Age 16
South Africa – Age 16
Canada – Age 16
France – Age 16
Norway – Age 16
Australia – Age 12
New Zealand – No age restriction
Other Alternatives for Minors Wishing To Skydive
The next best thing to skydiving is indoor skydiving, particularly for minors. While a simulated skydive doesn’t measure up to the life-changing experience offered by exiting a plane, the sensation of free fall is very similar. At many indoor skydiving centers, children as young as three years old can enjoy the sensation of flying – kids love it!
Skydiving from an airplane is a truly amazing thing to do, and there are actually surprisingly few things that exclude people from doing it. If you are under 18 then you might have to wait a while, but the good news is that when you reach the required age you can not only sign up for a tandem skydive, you can also earn your license to jump solo and become a fully qualified skydiver! Here at Skydive STL we have everything you need to experience one of the most truly amazing things humans can do, and we look forward to jumping with you very soon.