First Commercial Skydiving Center in the United States
Published: February 14, 2017
Let's face it: Behind every eager first-time skydiver is a parent terrified that his/her baby won't make it back to the ground safely. If you're the spawn of boss-level worriers, hang in there! We have a few pointers to help you navigate the process.
The baseline legal age to make a skydive in the US is 18. You'll have to show a valid photo ID when you rock up for your jump, and no drop zone will let you jump if you're under that age limit. Because of the laws that govern the sport, there are no waivers for parent permission--so any, like, awkward conversation you start with your parents at age 17 ¾ won't do you much good anyway. Might as well gather your data for your 18th birthday and then tell them about it as a courtesy.
You know how it's often better to ask for forgiveness than permission? This might be a good place to exercise that practical little fact. If you have some time between now and the day you have eighteen candles in your cake, you have time to save up for that first tandem skydive. If you don't have to get your parents' permission and you don't have to get your parents' money, you just have to get...to the dropzone. Boom.
Now that you're an adult, you're going to need to refine the way you take risks. After all: the stakes (and rewards) are much greater when you're out on your own than they are when you're still living in a bedroom down the hall from your parents. Skydiving is a great place to work on calculating risks.
First, research the safest dropzones in your area--because it does matter where you make your jump. A great place to start looking is the database maintained by the United States Parachute Association. USPA member dropzones follow a higher standard of safety, training and maintenance than other dropzones, and they're more closely regulated. (Fun fact: The USPA also maintains safety statistics for the sport of skydiving, and those stats are pretty eye-opening. As it turns out, tandem skydiving is safer than vacuuming. So--mom is the badass, not you. Just sayin'.)
Skydiving might end up being your professional career. It might sound crazy, but lots of new skydivers make a jump on their 18th birthday and never really end up leaving the dropzone. A whole bunch of professional skydivers get their start before they hit the end of decade number two. Loads of perfectly sane, responsible people have made careers of skydiving--with many hundreds (even many thousands) of jumps safely under their belts. So: while we're not saying it's going to unstick your parents' jaws from the table, maybe you can play this as career research.
We know people who were convinced that their parents would be dead set against them making a skydive--and then offered to come along. Parents can move in mysterious ways. You'll never know until you ask!