To the uninitiated, the idea of getting a skydiving license might seem like a one-time deal–like getting a license to drive, for example. Surprise! It’s not. After you get the license that allows you to jump unsupervised, you can then advance through several more licensing levels, each with mounting possibilities, responsibilities and rewards. There are four skydiving licenses you can work towards in your quest to become a solo skydiving athlete: A, B, C and D. Here’s the best part: it only gets better as you progress in the sport!
The USPA (United States Parachute Association) A license is the starting gate. It’s the introductory license to the sport of skydiving.
To get an A license, you’ll need to complete an approved course on the ground (including–gasp!–a written test), as well as a prescribed series of jumps with instructors and coaches. You’ll be required to display a number of skills in the air and demonstrate that you can pack a parachute in order to earn your instructors’ approval to fly solo. After you do so, you’ll be approved to submit your paperwork and apply for the A-License.
The biggest benefit of the skydiving A-license is experiencing high-flyin’ camaraderie in the sky. After you’ve logged 25 jumps, you’ll be able to jump with your buddies!
After 50 jumps (which arrives incredibly quickly after that first 25), you’ll be staring down the barrel of your B license. Here, it gets a little more intense, and a lot more fun. In order to earn that B, you’ll complete a canopy course, do training to prepare for the maybe-someday eventuality of a water landing, and show off a few of the other flying and landing maneuvers you’ve learned.
Now that you’re a big bad B, you’re not quite so green. You’re still new, but you’re a little savvier; a little quicker on the uptake; a little more agile. Thus, you’ll have a few more options on the menu. Night jumps! Helicopter jumps! Hot air balloon jumps! HALO jumps!
At 100 jumps, you can enjoy even more responsibility–the threshold of 100 jumps allows you to sign up for training to go for your coach rating. As a USPA Coach, you’ll be able to help students and other skydivers to progress in the sport.
Two hundred jumps may seem quite a long way off. In reality, it’s not–a couple of seasons, if you’re jumping regularly. C-license skydivers are generally regarded as intermediate athletes with all the privileges of that position. The license must be earned by demonstrating your rapidly advancing knowledge (and your ability to nail a target under canopy like Robin Frickin’ Hood, handy for this license level’s coolest upgrade: the ability to do demonstration jumps into ‘whuffo’ events).
At C, you’ll (finally!) be able to wear that GoPro you’ve been wanting to take on your jumps since your first tandem skydiving adventure. You’ll also be able to zip on a wingsuit and try your hand at that oh-so-gawked discipline, if you so choose. You’ll be able to start work toward your USPA instructor rating, which would then enable you to work with new skydiving students in an official capacity.
The Dis the Daddy of all skydiving licenses. This, the most advanced license in skydiving, can only be qualified for after logging 500 jumps, which is no small feat. It’s only with the D that you’re able to start in earnest on your instructional ratings — such as the Tandem Instructor rating — and, if you choose, truly make a life out of skydiving from work to play.
With a D license, you’ll be able to work on your Pro rating, too, which allows you to make more and more interesting demonstration jumps into tighter, more populated landing areas, even carrying pyro and flags if you so choose.
Let’s do it! Learn more about our Accelerated Freefall Progression program here at Skydive Orange.
The largest tandem skydiving center near Northern Virginia, Washington D.C. and Maryland.