What is the minimum age for skydiving?
I've been asked so many times whether kids can go skydiving and at what age. The reality is, it depends on which country and under which regulatory structuree you happen to live in.
How is the minimum age for skydiving decided
In the United Kingdom, the British Parachute Association operations manual is the 'bible' which documents the rules for skydiving, under licence from the UK Civil Aviation Authority and it defines the minimum age as 16 years old (with parental consent). In the United States the minimum age is also 16 according to the United States Parachute Association although each of the individual states then apply further rules and many of them raise the bar to 18.
Do young people want to skydive?
Many children of skydivers are exposed to the sport from an early age - some of the younger ones even swell with pride at being called 'DZ brats' and they look everywhere for opportunities to make their first jump. Holidays in Eastern Europe have encouraged UK skydivers to allow their children the opportunity to join them to 'play in the 'blue fields' at 10 or 11 years old whilst simulated skydiving competitions, such as the 'Young Eagles' which started back in 2003 give the opportunity for under 16's to get involved in the sport without any of the risks.
Its all about the lawyers and underwritersWhy hasn't the age for skydiving changed or reduced? Clearly the biggest issues which every major organisation must deal with is the increasingly litigeous environment and spiralling insurance costs. One wonders if there is less effect of these two corelated issues as we travel further east.
Australia considers 'no minimum age' rule for skydiving
A couple of weeks ago a nine year old made his first tandem skydive at Cairns, Australia. It's clear from this article that Shinji Hain had full parental support to make his skydive and as a basic pre-requisite, he was a good fit for the harness which was used. He also appeared to be properly trained and in the right frame of mind throughout. Although the APF operations manual still lists 14 as the minimum age for skydiving, The APF Director of Safety has the option to issue a waiver subject to certain criteria being met. So far the youngest has been 9, and since the system was implemented in July 2008, a total of 33 waivers have been issued. The APF are considering the possibility of making this a no-minimum age rule however they want to gather more data and trial the system over the next year before reviewing this again.
Shinji and his parents are to be applauded for their go-for-it spirit and although it may not be for everyone, shouldn't we have the option to allow our kids to experience the fun that we ourselves enjoy?
What are your views on minimum age for skydiving?
Is it time for a change in UK, Europe and US? Should the age requirement for skydiving be reduced? Post your comments here and enter the debate with BPA, USPA and APF members and more.