Skydiving is one of those simple and complex all-at-the-same-time activities. When the goal is to feel comfortable and confident so you can have fun, simplicity is a definite advantage. But there are rules of skydiving (and a whole lot of behind-the-scenes checks and balances) to ensure every part of the process is smooth and efficient. Here are some of the primary rules of skydiving that you need to know about before you book.
How Old Do You Have To Be To Skydive?
To skydive at a USPA Member dropzone, you need to be a legally recognized adult – which means you must be at least 18 years old to make a jump. (More on the USPA later.)
Skydiving is comparatively low risk when considering other extreme sports, but it is still risky. As a legal adult, you are trusted to make your own decisions and to assume the responsibility of your actions. Not 18 yet? The wait is no fun – but it is totally worth it. There is no maximum age limit, though. As long as you’re in general good health and physically fit, it doesn’t matter if you’re 18 or 108. Case in point, the oldest tandem skydiver currently with a Guinness World Record was 103 years and 180 days at the time of his jump in 2020.
What Is The Weight Limit For Skydiving?
In accordance with FAA regulations, dropzones are required to set appropriate weight limits for their particular equipment and gear for the safety of everyone involved. Not only must every aircraft load be carefully weighted and balanced, but it’s also critical that dropzone operators comply with the weight recommendations associated with their gear as set by the manufacturer. At Long Island Skydiving Center, we require tandem skydiving students to be height and weight proportionate and to weigh no more than 240 pounds. This is in no way intended to be exclusive or discriminatory.
It’s worth noting that gear-related requirements have more to do with performance than integrity. Parachutes and harnesses come with a weight limit so that openings and landings are comfortable and fun – not uncomfortable and, worse yet, painful. All skydiving gear is mandated to undergo regular inspection and maintenance as part of dropzone operations.
How Does Weather Affect Skydiving?
Weather conditions need to be generally favorable for successful skydiving. This can get nuanced and technical if you are in charge of things from on the ground or in the air, but in the simplest of terms it needs to be neither too windy nor too cloudy.
You must be able to see the landing area from your jump altitude, and have sufficient horizontal distance from any clouds around. If it’s windy things can get progressively more challenging. Modern parachutes are designed to enable precise maneuverability, but it requires a bit of art and science – and wind can make both hard. The stronger the wind conditions, the smaller the margin of error. The most common issue caused by wind is landing off the DZ and having to either walk back or wait for someone to come and get you.
Who’s In Charge?
Skydiving is overseen by the United States Parachute Association (USPA), a non-profit organization charged with oversight and governance of the rules for safe and successful skydiving activities. USPA Member dropzones must adhere to the basic requirements set forth by the USPA, and many DZOs (dropzone owners) choose to implement their own rules based on local considerations.
There are a ton of unwritten rules and community-driven traditions, too. As an example, you get your forehead rubber stamped as well as your logbook when you earn your A License! Another is the practice of buying everyone a round when you achieve something new.
Have other questions about the official and unofficial rules of skydiving? Connect with us! Better yet, book your jump and experience them for yourself! Blue skies!