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Few Regulations Govern Skydiving Industry

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Photo credit: Getty Images

Photo credit: Getty Images

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DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) - Skydiving provides an adrenaline rush like no other, but also comes with obvious risks.

Despite the danger factor, there are few mandatory rules for those who chose to take the jump.

Texas has little or no regulation on the state level.  However, because the sport requires the use of an aircraft, it is regulated by the Federal Aviation Associaton.

While the sport has worked hard to create industry safety standards,  there’s no true system for enforcing many of those guidelines.

Photo credit: Getty Images

Photo credit: Getty Images

CBS 11 spoke with Ed Scott, Executive Director of the United States Parachute Association.

“Skydiving is not a perfectly safe sport.  You have to know what you’re doing.  You have to be well trained.  You have to know about the equipment you are using,” he said.

There are about 240 skydiving companies or drop zones in the U.S. Nearly all of them are members of the USPA.  While the USPA doesn’t have regulating powers, each drop zone member pledges to follow the association’s recommended safety procedures.

Those include using “only USPA rated skydiving instructors, set minimum distances for landing areas, we set the minimum wind conditions,” said Scott.

Again these are recommendations, which means each drop zone operates differently.  For instance, there are no laws about age requirement.  The USPA has set 16 as the minimum age with parental consent.  But there are some businesses that require a person to be at least 18.

You can also choose to jump in tandem with an expert or do it solo.

The 16 year old severely injured during a jump in Oklahoma over the weekend decided to jump alone, and under the current guidelines, inexperienced jumpers have that right.

“The difference is if you’re on your own, you need to know what to do in case the parachute doesn’t open properly,” said Scott.

Although the USPA has no sanctioning power, it has been in touch with the company in Oklahoma where the incident happened and plans to get to the bottom of what went wrong.  The company is a member of the USPA.

(©2014 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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