Skydiving is one of the world’s most exhilarating sports. The activity is available to absolute beginners through to competitive professionals, but at all levels skydivers will enjoy the feeling of freedom as they fall through the air whilst enjoying the jaw-dropping landscapes beneath them. But how old do you have to be to skydive?
Some sixth formers or gap year students might be concerned that they’re not old enough to participate in this sport, whilst older generations who are young at heart may wonder if there is an upper age limit to prevent them from taking their first jump.
How Old Do You Have to Be?
Unfortunately, there’s no universal answer.
Broadly speaking, each country has its own set of skydiving regulations that have their own limits on a person’s age, medical history and physical fitness. These might all have a bearing on a person’s eligibility to skydive in that country. There are some countries that don’t have any restrictions on skydiving, but we would advise you to steer clear of these drop zones.
Here’s our comprehensive guide to skydiving age limits in different countries:
Locations such as St Andrews in Scotland offer the perfect place for novice jumpers as it specialises in tandem skydives. In the UK, it is necessary to be 18 years old to skydive, although those who are aged 16 and over may be able to participate if they have a signature of agreement from their parent or guardian. Most UK parachute companies also have a maximum age in place for skydiving. This is because as people get older, they generally have slower reaction times and might be more predisposed to medical issues that would put them in danger. Under British Parachuting Association rules, a person may be admitted for solo training for their first jump before their 55th birthday so long as they are fit and healthy. This rule does not apply for tandem jumps where the descent is in harness with a qualified instructor.
In the United States, skydiving companies are voluntarily affiliated with the United States Parachute Association (USPA) which has its own regulations in place. A question that is regularly asked is ‘how old do you have to be to skydive at a USPA site in America?’ The answer is currently 18 years old. The limit was previously aged 16, but was raised to 18 following the injury of a teenage girl in Oklahoma in 2014. There are other factors that may prevent you from skydiving in America. Firstly, potential participants must be physically fit as they will be required to carry around 35lbs of equipment on their back as well as enduring atmospheric pressure changes at high altitude. The maximum weight that a skydiver can be is 220lbs and it is important that those who have a history of fainting spells, blackouts or problems with their heart are excluded from taking part. If you fit the criteria, then America has many superb skydiving locations including the beautiful island of Hawaii, which uses energy efficient planes to give you a guilt-free and carbon-free experience.
Australia is the place to come for youngster skydiving as the minimum age for a tandem jump is just 12 years old. For those wishing to enjoy a solo skydiving experience, they must be 16 years old with parental consent or else 18 years of age. There is also no maximum age at which you can skydive in Australia and it has been known for 90 year olds to enjoy a tandem dive in the country. The physical fitness of all prospective skydivers will be checked before training begins. Those over 80kg in weight may not be able to jump with the maximum weight limit being 100kg. Wollongong, Sydney is a truly picturesque skydive to enjoy. You will take in a view of the city set against the backdrop of whales and dolphins swimming in the ocean.
In line with several other countries, Switzerland chooses to restrict the under-16s from skydiving and requires those under the age of 18 to have a written declaration of consent from their parent or guardian. There is a maximum weight limit of 105kg for those who wish to skydive in Switzerland. Head to Interlaken to take in the magnificent Swiss Alps as you freefall.
How old do you have to be to skydive in New Zealand? Tandem skydiving in particular is exceptionally flexible and the only limitation for small children is their size and checking that the harness fits correctly. With this in mind, children as young as 7 years old have been known to go skydiving although anyone under the age of 18 will need the consent of their parent or guardian. For solo skydives it is necessary to be over the age of 16 with parental consent required for the under 18s. At the upper end of the scale 90 year olds are also able to fly tandem providing they meet the medical and weight requirements of being less than 100kg. The landscape over both islands of New Zealand lends itself to some truly spectacular drop zones. Fox Glacier on the South Island stands out as one of the best spots and has some excellent facilities and instructors.
South Africa is another flexible country as far as tandem skydives go in that there is no minimum age limit so long as all under 18s have written consent from their parent or guardian. For solo courses, there is a minimum age limit of 16 with the accompanying proof of parental consent. In terms of health however, there are some much stricter regulations in place than other countries. Prospective skydivers will be weighed before their course and must not exceed 95kg in weight. In addition, those who have pre-existing medical conditions will normally be expected to produce a letter of consent from their doctor and will also need to sign a waiver before the skydive. South Africa’s climate and clear blue skies make it the perfect country to skydive in. PASA registered drop zones can be found in Johannesburg, Cape Town and on the Garden Route.
Are you interested in taking your first skydive but don’t know where to begin? We have heaps of information for beginners and experts alike, including the best locations, skydiving gear and equipment, indoor skydiving and even a comprehensive look at the risks involved.
Are you looking to skydive in a country that we’ve not covered in this guide? Why not let us know in the comments below and we’ll try to help!