Steps to Get A Skydiving License Explained

Steps to Get A Skydiving License Explained

Published: February 21, 2017

There are four steps to getting a skydiving license. The first step is to make 5 tandem skydives which help you get used to the sensations of freefall. The next steps are to jump with instructor support and then completely solo. In the final step, you'll learn to jump safely with other people. You can usually achieve your skydiving license in 25 jumps.

Four Steps To Earn Your Skydiving License

The four steps to getting your skydiving license are:

  1. Five tandem skydives

  2. Five instructor assisted freefalls (IAFs)

  3. Five solo freefalls

  4. Ten group skydive coached jumps

Each step toward getting a skydiving license is designed to teach a new set of skills and consolidate those skills already learned. Once you have your license, you'll be qualified to jump without any instructor supervision and to jump safely with other skydivers.

Our students learn under the USPA (United States Parachute Association) guidelines and your new license will enable you to jump at any USPA approved drop zone.

Step 1: Five Tandem Skydives

Skydiving puts your body through a whole range of new sensations. It's unlikely you've ever felt anything like it before!

This can often mean that the first few jumps are a blur. Your body is overloaded by the new feelings and this 'sensory overload' is one of the main reasons we advocate tandem skydives at the beginning of your course.

During the tandem skydives, you'll be talked through the whole experience by your instructor. Jump one is all about getting your body position right and being stable in the air. As you progress through the five tandem jumps, you'll learn more skills, including pulling the parachute, identifying the best place to land and steering and landing the parachute.

Step 2: Five Instructor Assisted Freefalls (IAFs)

Before you get to jump without being attached to an instructor, you first need to complete ground school. This is where you'll learn all about the skydiving equipment we use when jumping solo, how to operate it and what to do when things don't go quite to plan.

This equips you with the skills you need to jump solo, with instructors there to support you through this phase. On the first of these five jumps, you'll be held onto by your instructor all the way. As you progress, your instructor will release you and you'll learn to complete maneuvers such as turns, forwards and backwards movement and canopy control - including landings in specific target zones to prove your accuracy.

You'll also be expected to learn to pack your own parachute during this phase. Learning to pack gives you a better understanding of your equipment and increases your independence as a skydiver.

Step 3: Five Solo Freefalls

With your instructor assisted freefalls complete, it's time to take the next big step to jumping completely unaided.

During this stage, you'll practice the skills you've learned so far. You'll need to show you can be responsible for your own safety and to be able to plan your own jumps.

You'll progress through 5 levels which show off different skills, including turns, back loops, tracking (forward motion) and canopy control. This all culminates in a demonstration to your instructor during jump 4 and then instability exercises in the form of barrel rolls and front loops.

Step 4: RW Training And Canopy Control

The final step to achieving your skydiving license is to receive coaching in relative work (RW) skills and to consolidate and prove all of your canopy control skills.

Relative work is the discipline of jumping with other people. When we add more people into our skydive, we increase risk, which comes from the proximity and also the fact that your attention is now on another person.

Learning to fly safely with other people is therefore an essential part of learning to be a well-rounded skydiver. Over the course of 10 jumps, you'll learn from your coach how to control your fall rate to fall with other people, how to use the maneuvers you've learned to position yourself correctly, how to take grips on other people and the basic formations (shapes) involved in RW skydiving.

Learn more about our student training programs, or contact a Skydive Finger Lakes team member with any questions you have.

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The staff are patient and amazing! Brett my instructor made this a fabulous experience. Never anticipated I would love falling so fast!

» Cindy D.