Do you have to be 18 to skydive? Teenagers ready to take flight will be disappointed to know that, yes, in the United States there is a minimum requirement of 18 years of age. There’s good news for those approaching their golden years, though: there’s no maximum skydiving age limit. Regardless of which end of the spectrum you fall on, it’s ultimately all about your physical and mental health.
Here at Oklahoma Skydiving Center, you are never too old to start skydiving, and we’re ready to help you take that leap! Age is but a number in the skydiving community and, let’s be real, most skydivers will be forever young at heart!
The United States Parachute Association (USPA) is the governing body that sets the skydiving age requirement and most other skydiving recommendations and restrictions. Although this is a drag for young daredevils, all rules and regulations are created with safety at the forefront. If you have an adventure-hungry friend who is almost 18, a skydiving gift certificate makes for the perfect birthday present!
In the United States, 18 is the age at which one is deemed to be mature enough to make a rational decision about a number of things – including getting a tattoo and enlisting in the military. Skydiving at any age will change your life (in a positive way!), but the inherent risk involved in our extreme sport requires that you are a legal adult who consciously chooses to take the risk.
Prior to a tandem skydive (or solo jump), every skydiver must present government-issued photo ID to prove age and complete legal paperwork, called a waiver, that acknowledges what you are about to do, and the potential consequences. The majority of tandem skydiving equipment manufacturers require that all parties using their gear are 18 and older. One of the reasons for this regulation is because of the size of the harness. When you do a tandem skydive, you’re fastened into a harness and then securely attached to your instructor. Similar to the seatbelts on a rollercoaster, it is critical that these harnesses fit nice and snug.
While most dropzones choose to be USPA Group Members, there are a select few that are not. At these DZs, people under the age of 18 can make a tandem jump with permission from a parent or guardian. Determining the age at which they will allow individuals to jump is at the discretion of each non-USPA Member dropzone and, for liability reasons, there are very few that choose to allow people under 18 to jump.
There are exceptions made for Make-A-Wish participants who Wish to skydive. Both a waiver and explicit approval from the equipment manufacturer (if the gear is restricted to 18+) is required. These jumps are always an incredibly special and memorable experience for everyone involved.
The USPA is the most recognized skydiving association out there, and there are many dropzones abroad that are also USPA Group Members. And while we would love to have you check “go skydiving” off your bucket list here with us, there are dropzones overseas that do allow for younger jumpers.
In Spain, for example, you can skydive at 16 (with parental consent), and the same goes for Ireland. Kids of any age (whoa!) can make a tandem skydive in New Zealand, provided that they are accompanied by a parent or guardian, of course.
Indoor skydiving is an excellent option for people who want to enhance their freefall skills. The wind tunnel provides an awesome experience to new, experienced, and soon-to-be jumpers, and some people even choose to stick with the tunnel and never take to the sky. And here’s the best part – typically, wind tunnels can accommodate people as young as three years old!! It’s an activity the whole family can enjoy!
There are various age-specific clubs within the skydiving community such as the Parachutists Over Phorty Society (POPS), which was established in 1966! There is also a Skydivers Over Sixty (SOS) club, Jumpers Over Seventy (JOS), and the Jumpers Over Eighty Society (JOES). There’s even a Jumpers Over Ninety (JONS) group, although there is currently only one active JONS member.
People who are passionate about the sport are more than capable of sticking with it and jumping the majority of their lives. As a matter of fact, the current World Record holder for the oldest person to make a tandem skydive was 103 years and 181 days old when he made his most recent jump!
Regardless of your age, watching your pals jump is an awesome experience and serves as a wonderful introduction to the skydiving community (our chosen family!). If you’re under 18, we can’t wait for you to jump with us after you cross the threshold into “adulthood”, and if you’re over 18, what are you waiting for?! Let’s do this!
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