Your First Skydive
Skydiving is one of today’s most exciting sports. Dynamic and colourful, it offers mastery of the air and the freedom to make the skies your own!
Enjoyment, exhilaration and limitless challenge are available even to the absolute beginner. And at its highest level, skydiving is an intensely competitive sport which requires finely tuned skills, intimate knowledge of the air and perfect body control.
More people than ever are discovering for themselves the pure joy that freedom of the skies can bring. The majority of skydiving is done as fun jumping. It offers not only the enjoyment of the jumps but great opportunities to meet with friends and enjoy a wide range of social activities.
As their experience grows, many skydivers take part in boogies (fun-jumping events) and there is also a vibrant competitions scene. British Skydiving offers a programme of skills coaching roadshows to help non-seniors improve their skills. There’s something for everyone in the skydiving calendar – just take a look at the diary of events. Some skydivers choose to join display teams, entertaining crowds by jumping into fetes, fairs and shows.
Some people make a skydive to raise funds for charity (often called a sponsored skydive). If you are considering this, it is very important that, first and foremost, you should want to make a skydive. If you do, then tandem skydiving – where you are attached in a harness with a qualified instructor (see 3 below) – is the most appropriate type of skydive to make. If you are interested in making a sponsored skydive, please contact your chosen Affiliated Parachute Training Organisation (PTO) direct for more information.
Are you at uni?
If you’re at university, it may have its own skydiving club. See the British Collegiate Parachute Association (BCPA) website to check.
There are three ways you can make a first jump
Whichever method you choose for your first skydivep, there is an organised structure for you to learn about the sport and advance at a safe pace. You will be assessed by British Skydiving instructors, they will progress you to the next stage when you are ready. The two systems are identical, only your equipment differs.
Your first freefall can be as early as your sixth jump and will usually be a five second delay. The time you spend in freefall will be gradually increased and you will start to learn body flying skills such as turns and forward movement. About 30 jumps and you can qualify as a fully fledged skydiver. From here, all the different avenues of the sport are open!
To skydive, a person must be aged at least 16 years. People aged under 18 must have their parent’s or guardian’s written permission.
Analysis of statistics compiled over many years indicates that incident rates tend to increase as student jumpers get older. This may be due to slowing reaction times and sometimes less acute senses as the years go by. Risk assessment suggests the tipping point to be when a person reaches their mid-fifties. On this basis, to avoid increased risk, the maximum age at which even a hale, hearty and healthy person can be admitted to start training under British Skydiving rules for solo parachute jumping is before they reach their 55th birthday, although some Affiliated Parachute Training Organisations (PTO) may set a lower age limit than this based on their own risk assessments. This restriction does not apply to tandem students, where the descent is in harness with a qualified instructor – although health requirements continue to apply.
Weight limits apply to parachute descents for safety reasons. Each Affiliated Parachute Training Organisation will have its own weight limits derived from risk assessments of factors including the type of jump, the equipment used, and the gender of the jumper (statistics show different rates of injury for men and women, which may be to do with body shape and weight distribution).
Maximum weights are typically around 15 stone, but a few centres may sometimes be able to take jumpers weighing slightly more than this. British Skydiving does not maintain a list of current weight limits by each Affiliated PTO, so please contact PTOs direct.
Health restrictions also apply. Further information is set out on the ‘Declaration of fitness to parachute’ form. Click on link for Form 252 Asthma and skydiving.
Acceptance for parachute training is entirely at the discretion of the individual Parachute Training Organisation. For full information, please contact your chosen Affiliated Parachute Training Organisation.