Is it important to get a parachute medical for skydiving activity?

Do you have plans of jumping out of a plane? Whilst skydiving is an exceptionally popular extreme sport, it comes with its out risks and dangers. Whether you are a tandem skydiver or solo skydiver, assessing your medical fitness before performing the extreme sport is pivotal. 

What is a parachute medical?

A medical assessment performed to determine your fitness to skydive from a certain height is referred to as parachute medical. Every first-time diver is required to provide a British skydiving form that states their medical fitness to perform the activity. Doctors who are approved by aviation medical examination (AME) are well suited for providing medical advice for the sport. 

Who needs a parachute medical certificate?

Anyone over the age of 40 who is willing to skydive, sport parachute, or become a skydiver trainer is required to provide a medical fitness certificate signed and stamped by a registered GP. 

This is important for those who have an existing medical condition or has had one in the past. 

Some of the medical conditions (but not limited to) that could impact the sport are:

  • Epilepsy or seizures
  • Chronic head injury 
  • Recurring blackouts
  • Disorders related to the brain or nervous system
  • Hypertension
  • Heart disease
  • Lung/respiratory disease
  • Mental illness
  • Alcohol and substance abuse 

What does the medical assessment include?

  • Electroencephalogram (EEG) – is the test performed to diagnose epilepsy, where the electrodes will be attached to the patient’s scalp that records the electrical activity of their brain.
  • Neurological examination – conducted to test your behavioural, motor functioning, and mental functioning to diagnose the type of epileptic condition.
  • Computerized tomography or CT scan – that determines any presence of fractures and uncover evidence of haemorrhage in the brain, scans any possible blood clots or swollen or bruised brain tissue.
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) – a test that adopts powerful radio waves and magnets to provide a detailed view of the brain that indicates any severe head injury.
  • Electrocardiogram or ECG – a painless and non-invasive test that measures the electrical activity of the heart and helps in monitoring signs of hypertension, or any heart disease.
  • Lung/respiratory test – performed to determine the lung functioning and airflow using a spirometer.
  • Urine analysis – to check the blood glucose levels and screen diabetes, and also screen alcohol and drug usage. 

Basic body measurement test – a regular check of your body weight, height, and body mass index (BMI). 

What are the types of medical forms for parachute sport?

There are two types of medical forms used for skydiving or parachuting sport. 

  • A tandem skydiver is required to provide a 115A form, which is in other words, a self-declaration of fitness form. The skydiver is required to declare and confirm that he/she is medically fit without any medical condition that is listed in the form. 
  • If a skydiver has doubts about their medical fitness or has any of the pre-existing medical condition that is listed in the form, they are required to provide a 115B form, which is signed a stamped by a registered doctor stating that the respective candidate is medically fit to perform the particular sport.

​Are there different forms for solo and static line training?

The medical forms used for parachute diving are different than training. 

  • If you plan on carrying out solo skydiver training, you will have to produce a 115C form, which confirms solo student fitness to diving. 
  • If you want to provide a medical certificate by your doctor for solo skydiving training, you will have to provide a 115D solo student parachutist medical certificate signed by the doctor. 

The upper age limit for solo training is 55 set by our governing body. However, tandem skydiving has no upper age limit.

Like every medical examination, your medical tests will be based on the demands of parachute diving as listed above. You can expect a basic health questionnaire for the GP to understand your medical history. 

Upon successful completion of the medical assessment, your doctor will sign and stamp the form stating you are medically fit to perform the extreme sport.

What are the other things to consider for my medical assessment?

  • Medical assessment time can vary in individuals based on the kind of examination they undergo. However, in most cases, it could take around 1-2 hours.
  • It is advisable to wear easy and comfortable clothing for the test. However, in some cases, you might be expected to change into a hospital gown. 
  • It is advised to avoid smoking before a lung function test.
  • Avoid alcohol consumption before your test as it could impair your physical and mental performance.

What documents do I carry for the medical test?

  • Photo ID proof e.g. valid passport 
  • Spectacles or contact lenses (if applicable) 
  • Records of any pre-existing medical conditions (if any)
  • Medical prescription (if any)
  • Medical form 115B or 115D based on your requirement
  • Chaperone you wish to bring along 

Parachuting or skydiving is an extreme sport with associated risks, injuries, or fatalities. Some existing medical conditions could worsen the situation and increase the risk. It is always advisable to get a certificate from a registered doctor to declare your fitness to dive.

At Barnetby Private Medicals, we provide medicals for parachuting and other services. Schedule your appointment today.