Skydiving is a fun and exciting activity to enjoy perfect views from the sky. The first experience of diving from an aircraft thousands of feet from the sky is exhilarating, whether you are 18 or 70. Beginner skydivers often prefer to perform their first skydive as a tandem. They strap themselves to a skydiving instructor using a harness.
The big question for most beginners is, how old should I be to skydive? Can I skydive at 16, and what is the age limit for skydiving?
Unfortunately, you cannot skydive at 16 due to several restrictions in the United States. In the US, you have to be a legal 18-year-old and above to skydive. Fortunately, there is no age limit on skydiving, provided you are fit to skydive.
Below is a comprehensive guide detailing the conversation around minimum and maximum age limits on skydiving. Read further to understand how old you ought to be to go skydiving in the US.
Can A 16-year Old Go Skydiving?
Yes and no. All United States Parachute Association (USPA) member dropzones within the US are not allowed to host any guest under the age of 18. However, at their discretion, non-USPA members can host guests under the age of 18. This is also dependent on the parachuting equipment type they are using. Regardless, some non-member drop zones still don’t allow 16-year olds to go skydiving.
What is the Minimum Age Limit on Skydiving?
The minimum skydiving age limit varies across different territories. In the United States, all USPA- member dropzones are restricted from allowing anyone under the age of 18 to skydive. In addition, most parachute equipment manufacturers provide minimum age requirements for their equipment use.
What is the Maximum Age Limit on Skydiving?
There is no maximum age limit on skydiving. At 103 years old and 181 days, Alfred “Al” Blaschke was the oldest man to skydive from a moving plane at an impressive 14,000 feet as of 2020.
While there is a minimum cap on the skydiving age limit, there is no maximum age limit on skydiving. Whether you are 80, 90, or anything past that, you can attempt a tandem skydive. However, for your safety, it is recommended that you have some notable and reliable fitness levels.
Can Kids go Skydiving? If Yes, Where?
Kids can go skydiving. However, this is limited to certain countries. Countries like New Zealand, Mexico, Australia, and the United Kingdom permit kids under 18 years to go skydiving.
Most skydiving centers in the United States, except a few, do not allow minors to go skydiving. Those that allow minors to go skydiving have set up the tightest protocols and follow the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) laws.
Is It Safe for Kids to Go Skydiving?
There is no guarantee of safety in skydiving. However, most dropzones do everything possible to mitigate as much risk as possible. Statistically, tandem skydiving possesses the best safety records, with 0.3% fatalities for every 1,000 skydives in the last decade. Based on these numbers, you are more likely to win a lottery or be struck by lightning.
Who Regulates Skydiving for Kids?
Currently, there are a couple of bodies that place restrictions on skydiving for kids. These include:
1. The United States Parachute Organization (USPA). The USPA mandates that jumpers must be of legal age (18 years) to skydive, having taken into account the age of the majority. In addition, all USPA-affiliated dropzones must abide by USPA’s safety requirements and regulations
2. Tandem skydiving equipment manufacturers. The equipment manufacturers set regulations for using their skydiving gear, like the minimum age requirement to use the equipment. This was in an effort to comply with the FAA’s safety standards.
In addition, since skydiving is an extreme sport, if you wish to go on a tandem skydive, you must sign a waiver of rights. The waiver is a legally binding contract serving as an assumption of risk, an agreement, and release of liability. In the US, an individual must be of legal age (18 years) to enter into a lawfully binding contract.
Can 16-Year Old Kids Skydive with Parental Consent?
Unfortunately, all USPA-affiliated dropzones are restricted from hosting minors regardless of parental consent. Generally, parental consent does not usually matter since minors are not allowed to skydive.
Why is There an Age Limit on Skydiving?
As previously established, skydiving age limits vary across different states. For instance, in Australia and Europe, there is no age limit on skydiving. Skydiving is a fun sport, and most people inquiring about age limits often have someone eager to try out skydiving.
But is it worth the risk? Unfortunately, allowing skydiving for minors in the US exposes the drop one to plenty of potential risks. The United States is more litigious than other skydiving territories. The real threat for dropzones is lawsuits. As such, they cannot allow minors to skydive, regardless of how mature they are or whether they agree not to sue in the event of something terrible happening.
Within the US, 18-year olds are believed to be mature enough to understand the consequences of their actions. They understand what they agree to and waiver their rights by signing the necessary paperwork and releasing liability from the skydiving equipment manufacturers and skydiving centers.
Can A Minor with Terminal Illness Be Allowed to Skydive?
This is possible within the US and a few other territories. It is often referred to as a “make a wish” jump. Often this requires planning and time to be signed off and conducted. During the USPA board of directors meeting in the summer of 2019, the Skydiver’s Information Manual (SIM) was updated to allow for this provision.
According to the newly added provision, minors with terminal illnesses may be issues a waiver for tandem skydives, dependent on approval from equipment manufacturers who insist on age restrictions. In addition, before this jump, the organizer should submit a waiver request form to the Chairman of the Safety and Training Committee and the Safety and Training Director for approval.
Can 16-Year Olds Do Indoor Skydiving?
The safest alternative to outdoor skydiving from a moving plane is indoor skydiving. Indoor skydiving tunnels are suitable for minors as well. Most indoor skydiving wind tunnels also kids as young as three years old.
Wind tunnels are ideally large tubes inside where air moves upwards, allowing you to �fly’ around as in a freefall. Therefore, this is the only instance where skydiving is allowed for minors.
Benefits of Indoor Skydiving for Minors
If you are restricted from outdoor skydiving for legal reasons, indoor skydiving is your preferred alternative. Indoor skydiving is beneficial for several reasons, including:
- 1. Building your confidence. If you want to try outdoor skydiving by the time you are of legal age, indoor skydiving helps you work your confidence and resilience from scratch. Indoor skydiving is mostly a heavily controlled simulation with enhanced safety features
- 2. Mental rejuvenation. Indoor skydiving is just as stimulating as outdoor skydiving. It helps kids get the same benefits without exposing them to real-time dangers
- 3. It helps to burn calories. Indoor skydiving is just as much as any cardio exercise. A typical 26 minutes session for a beginner can burn approximately 300 calories, making a relatively reliable workout.
What Are the Dangers of Skydiving for Minors?
Whether it is a minor or someone of legal age, skydiving poses potential risks to one’s life. It is generally believed that kids are naturally curious, and this may prompt them to expose themselves to more harm than they already are in.
Some of the dangers of letting a minor skydive include:
- Injury upon hitting the ground. Skydiving accidents have been on the decline for the last decade. Previously, skydiving equipment were not as fully reliable as currently. Fortunately, the current skydiving equipment, such as parachutes, are safer than before, thus reducing potential risks. Regardless, skydiving physics cannot be denied and ignored. Though less prevalent, injuries as a result of skydiving are highly possible for skydivers of all ages.
- Fatality/death. Parachute failures are disastrous, and if not deployed midair, one can get serious injuries or possible death upon landing on the ground
- Lawsuits. Lawsuits are often the consequences of injuries attained during skydives. Even though most dropzones insist on signing waivers, nobody fancies the idea of being sued. Moreover, in the US, it is almost illegal for kids to skydive. As such, allowing minors to skydive exposes these dropzones to trouble with the relevant authorities.
Can you be Too Old to Skydive?
How old do you have to be to skydive? As it turns out, there is no maximum age requirement for skydiving. Different drop zones welcome seniors of different ages looking to experience the thrill of airborne jumping.
While skydiving is a fun and exciting activity, it is also an extreme sport that requires extreme caution. One of the inforced ways of exercising caution is capping the minimum age limits. Unfortunately, your 16-year old child or any other minor for that matter is not allowed to skydive in the US.
However, in other countries, such as Europe and Australia, children under 18 years are allowed to skydive. Fortunately, there is no maximum age limit on skydiving, making it the ideal adrenaline-rushing activity for adults of all ages.
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