Feb 6, 2002, 6:06 PM
Post #1 of 29
50 yr old newbie
I need some advice. After wanting to try skydiving my whole life I finally went for a tandem on my 50th B'day. As expected I was hooked. I loved the thrill and, more imprtantly, was impressed by how welcoming the experienced skydivers were at the DZ (Boston-Providence Skydiving in Lincoln, RI).
I have to wait until the DZ opens again in late April to start AFF. My questions are:
1. I'm in great physical shape, weigh 175 lbs, but am I on the wrong end of the age curve to start this sport. For reference, I'm an avid runner, snowboarder and beer drinker.
2. I have a shoulder that likes to dislocate. It has not been out in 7 years but I've read incident reports about jumpers popping shoulders on hard openings and the dangers of trying to land with limited, or no, toggle input.
3. I'd obviously be jumping docile chutes for a while. Does this help or hurt.
4. Knowing my growing interest in this sport, I'd probably try to stay current and get in 75 to 100 jumps per year.
All advice is welcome. You guys have a tremendously under appreciated sport.
Don't even begin to think you are too old to start jumping! I know people who started skydiving at every age from 18 to 60. As long as you are in and stay in reasonably good physical condition you'll do just fine - you said you're a runner, right? No problem then!
If you aren't already doing so, you might consider building upper body strength and flexibility to help avoid further problems with your shoulder. Choose a canopy that opens softly - there are many out there - and you should have no problems with it.
Let us know how your first AFF jump goes! And welcome to the sport!
pull and flare, lisa -- What would Scooby Doo?
quade (D 22635)
Feb 6, 2002, 6:53 PM
Post #3 of 29
If you're in good shape then age doesn't matter. Hell, I'm not exactly certain what defines the lower end of what being in good shape is, but chances are that if you're an avid runner, you'll probably have more injuries from that than you will as a result of just being an "older" skydiver.
There is almost no physical handicap that can't be overcome. A dislocated shoulder injury from years ago doesn't have to be a limitation. There are people in this sport that jump without entire arms or legs. Your mind is your chief limitation.
There's no rule that says you have to jump anything other than a docile parachute. A lot of folks like the hot canopies and swooping their asses off, but I have a completely different point of view about landings and after nearly 1,000 jumps still fly one of the most docile and conservative canopies available. As a slightly older person in the skydiving community, I know that my bones won't heal quite as quickly as some of the younger folks. I -want- a docile canopy!
I -think- about 100 jumps a year is just about average for the normal weekend jumper. If you went on and joined teams and such, that number might increase significantly, but 100 jumps per year is definately enough to stay safe and current in the sport.
Good luck in your training and drop in from time to time to let us know how it's going!
The bad news is that I'll be 52 in April. The good news is that I have plenty of years of skydiving ahead of me. I quit jumping for about 25 years and started up again when I was about 50. It's great to be back. I must have an obsessive personality, because about all I can think about is jumping. I may be going through my second childhood or something. A couple friends are in there sixties and still jumping every chance they get. Your shoulder could be a problem. I've never hurt mine jumping but a hard landing might mess it up. I don't think opennings would be a problem, but I could be wrong. I wonder if it would be possible to put both toggles in one hand in an emmergency situation (if your shoulder did go out). I think that is what I would do. One nice thing about being older is that most of us are more financially secure at our age. I know a lot of younger people who have a hard time financing this sport. I'm far from rich, but I am able to make more money now than I did in my twenties. In the 70's we were paying about $3.50 for a cessna jump to 8,000. You could also buy a new PC canopy for around $300. Even though things were cheap I had a hard time making ends meet back then. Probably the best part of the sport to me is the comradery you develop with your fellow jumpers. I had a hard time convincing my wife that skydiving was something I had to do. After several months of wining and pouting (on my part),she finally gave in and let me buy a rig. Don't quit. We need more old farts in the sport. And don't forget..."Youth is a fleeting thing, but Imaturity can last forever."
The beer drinking is a definate plus to your career as a skydiver!
And while there are a lot of youngsters in this sport, there are aslo plenty of people your age and older, and plenty in the middle too. Some are veterans, and some are just starting like you. That's one of the things that is so cool about skydiving. We are a pretty diverse group of people.
Your shoulder is something to watch and be careful of, but don't let it stop you. As Lisa suggested, work on strengthening exercises in preparation for AFF, and jump a more docile, slow opening canopy. I think a canopy would really have to spank you in order to dislocate your shoulder, and if it opened that hard you would probably have more to worry about than your shoulder or how to steer.
Check in and let us know your progress. Too bad you have to wait until April, but at least you will be warmer!
Hi there John! Welcome to the sport. I, myself, am a newbie with under 50 jumps. I really love this sport and am certainly glad that my wife is in it.
I saw that someone said something about working out your upper-body. In the latest issue of "Parachutist", there is an article about what exercises to do so you work commonly used muscles in skydiving. You should probably get ahold of an issue to take note of what is in it.
If you can't get ahold of one, let me know and I can certainly send you my copy. My wife and I are both USPA members, so we get 2 issues each month. So, if you need me to send you one, let me know and I'll send it out ASAP. (PM me your addy and other info.)
>1. I'm in great physical shape, weigh 175 lbs, but am I on the wrong end of the age curve to start this sport. For reference, >I'm an avid runner, snowboarder and beer drinker.
Not a problem. If anything, the thing you'll have to work on most is the beer drinking. There are plenty of older people in the sport, and most are not in top shape.
>2. I have a shoulder that likes to dislocate. It has not been out in 7 years but I've read incident reports about jumpers >popping shoulders on hard openings and the dangers of trying to land with limited, or no, toggle input.
That is an issue, but there are ways around that. The #1 solution is physical therapy to make your shoulders more stable. You can simulate most of that on the ground (the pull is usually the toughest motion for people with shoulder problems) so you will be able to see beforehand if you can handle the motion.
>3. I'd obviously be jumping docile chutes for a while. Does this help or hurt.
Doesn't hurt at all. There is a wide variety of docile parachutes available.
Hi John You jumped at my DZ! Isn't it the best! Who was your TM? The DZ will reopen on April 1st, so if you could probably get through AFF by May. Anyhow, you'll be jumping student gear for AFF, Mantas 210, 260, & 280. Most rigs for rent are pretty large, the smallest you can rent is a PD 190, so thats pretty tame. Also, you are never too old to jump, and 50 isn't even old to begin with. So what are you waiting for, sign up for AFF w/ Dawson, and I'll see you at the DZ. Marianna
John, Don’t forget about the Parachutists Over Phorty Society (POPS). I'll be joining in a very few years. Having made a tandem jump you are already eligible for membership. Sorry I could not find a link, but they are in almost every issue of Parachutist magazine.
I can speak from experience....I was 49 when I made my first tandem (as a birthday present to myself). Am 51 now with 360 jumps. If I had NOT been in good shape (distance running & cycling + some weights) I think it would have been a tough sport to take up... Sounds like you're in great shape - I'm bettin' you'll have no problem at all in that respect.
Regarding the shoulder, I'll leave that to others with more experience in that area.
Good luck...and keep everyone posted on your progress....
I am so glad I read your post. I am 54 and just did two tandems this last summer. I am definitely hooked and have been struggling with whether or not I should take this sport on! Doing the two tandems was the best think I have ever done. I have been worried whether it was a realistic idea to take up the sport at this age, knowing bones don't heal as fast and worried that my reaction time MIGHT be slower, I don't know. Thanks for your post, at least I know I am not alone out here. J
This an interesting topic. I am an Alpine snowboarder, but ride my freestyle board in the halfpipe occasionally. Gone over the handle bars on my mountain bike. I've been jumping about 12 years. Got my AFF rating last year. Turned 52 in December. I would say go for it - have fun.
I saw the cutest thing at Lost Prairie last summer. There were 4 older men (the youngest not looking a day under 60) dirt diving a 4-way. They were laughing because they were moaning and groaning as they were crouched over practicing their grips. Well, when the dirt dive was complete and it was time to stand straight up again, only 3 of them did, the last man was actually hunched over like that all the time!
Way to go John, welcome to the sport. Don't worry about being 50 either, it's not the age in this sport, it's the milage.....if your odometer hasn't turned over yet, your fine!! seriously though, I jump/work at Skydive Pepperell just up the road a ways from Bostonn Providence and we had 4 students over 50 years old this past season, and they are all doing GREAT. There are also a large number of "Over 50" skydivers in the area, between BosProv, Pepperell, Orange and Skydive New England, your in a hot spot for "Over 50" jumpers, all of whom are some of the funnest people to jump with. They all have good stories too! Best of luck to you, your gonna do great and you'll be thankful you decided to take the plunge. If you have any questions, or need any help, my work email is
Ok I'll be the first to through up a red flag here! What are you nutz?!?!?!?
Here is what you have to look forward to... MY FJC instructor was 65 the day he taught our class. He started jumping at age 60, has made over 3,000 jumps in those 5 years and attained nearly every instructional rating and award possible in the sport. He flies some ridiculously small canopy that looks no bigger than a freakin piece of toilet paper over his head. Not to mention he was a great teacher for the course, made all of us learn the info.
Are you getting this ???? Do you REALLY want this to happen to you?? I mean seriously we're talking one plunge from a perfectly good airplane and its over. You walk away from the greatest legal way a man could spend his afternoon and your hooked. I among thousands of others am now afflicted with this same addiction. I have sought help, but the treatment centers are all at the DZ and the damn 12 step program involves naked chics, sleeping bags n bonfires at the DZ on a Saturday night.
I plead with you to reconsider!!!!
I could go on for days about the reason not to do it, but I know you will anyway, they never listen :(
Don't you just appreciate the messages here? Just when I was feeling I was too old to take up this sport, I hear all these replies. I still have some doubts though, because I'm so afraid of breaking something, or the fear of landing where I'm not suppose to! Ha! I will have to make a decision before Spring! J
My Dad is 60 and is an auto racing instructor, so you see where my genes come from . I tell him I've gone faster on my head than he has in his car.
In any event congrats & have fun! I've seen people all over the age spectrum in this sport. Yeah you have to be in reasonable phsyical shape, but it sounds like you are more than qualified in that category.
This topic brings up a question I've had for a bit now...
Are there any 50+ freefliers out there? I know of Pat Works (how old is he anyway?) but are there any others? How do the younger freefliers treat them?
"Zero Tolerance: the politically correct term for zero thought, zero common sense."
Zennie, I know almost nothing about freeflying, but I'd like to learn. That is the nice thing about the sport today. There are so many dimensions that you never run out of challenges. I was at skydive Oregon a while back. I wanted to do some relative work but a free-fly boogie was going on. Pat Works was giving instruction there. I made several jumps with him. One jump just the two of us went out. It was fun. I'll bet Pat shook his head at some of my attempts to sit and go head down. I would like to do more of this but my first love has always been RW. (Maybe some day I'll do more free-flying). Pat later wrote an article in skydiving magazine about this weekend. He said that all his students did well, except for this one "village idiot". I hope that wasn't me he was talking about!..... Steve