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How to Earn Your Skydiving License


Here’s the scene: You’re miles up in the sky and you peer out the open door of an airplane, the wind blasting by your face, and see the world down below. If this sounds like the adventure of a lifetime, then diving into how to become a certified skydiver is your next step in making the dream a reality!

Whether you’re a thrill-seeker or someone just looking to conquer new heights, getting skydiving certified has never been more accessible. Let’s take a deeper look into the United States Parachute Association (USPA) skydiving licensing, Skydive Cal methodologies, and how we can help you achieve and maintain your skydiving licenses.   

Why Skydive California? 

Why choose us when looking into how to become a skydiver? Cue Tina Turner’s: Simply The Best! 

Here at Skydive California, we use the most modern and efficient form of solo skydiving training: Accelerated Freefall (AFF). It’s the gold standard for how to become a certified skydiver. The AFF program involves a series of jumps where students (you!) are accompanied by two (and eventually one) certified instructors who provide in-air coaching. Each level of AFF builds on the skills learned in the previous jumps, which increases the student’s confidence and ability to skydive independently. 

We have a very hands-on approach here at Skydive Cal. Along with pre-jump and post-jump briefing, to ensure the student is genuinely gaining a comprehensive understanding of skydiving techniques. We believe having a grasp of the why is just as important as the how. 

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What’s the USPA? 

In short, the USPA is the governing body for skydivers. The USPA plays a crucial role in our community by establishing rigorous standards for training, safety, and skydiving certification. Skydive California is a USPA Member dropzone, which means we strictly adhere to the regulations and recommendations set forth by the USPA, specifically when it comes to their licensing framework. 

Understanding Skydiving Licenses 

There are four USPA skydiving licenses: A, B, C, and D. 

USPA A License

How many jumps to skydive alone? Just one! After your first tandem skydive, you can begin A-license training. The A-license proves you have competency in the sky while demonstrating basic skydiving skills. 

USPA B License

This is an intermediate license that requires 50 skydives and additional skills, such as canopy control and a water landing training course. 

USPA C License

With a minimum of 200 jumps, this license comes with more advanced canopy control and freefall skills. The C-license has a huge emphasis on being accurate while landing. 

USPA D License

This is the most pristine skydiving license and requires a minimum of 500 skydives! 

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Six Simple Steps To Earning Your First Skydiving License

1. Tandem Skydive

Doing a tandem skydive allows you to check out the scene before making the full-on commitment … sorta like how we don’t ask people to marry us on the very first date! Your first jump is an adrenaline-filled blur, which is why having a certified tandem instructor secured to you is a good idea! 

2. Ground School 

If you loved your tandem jump (which we’re certain you will!), then it’s time to enroll in our AFF program. AFF begins with four to six hours of ground school where we’ll go over the fundamentals of skydiving equipment, how to operate it, and what to do if the plan goes off course. Ground school thoroughly addresses each part of the first jump you’ll make and gives you the chance to ask any questions, giving you all the pre-jump assurance you need. 

3. Get Your AFF On

Ground school is part of AFF, but the fun begins when it’s time for the jumps! There are seven (sometimes eight) AFF levels: A, B, C-1, C-2 (if needed), D-1, D-2, E-1, and E-2. Each level requires proficiency in specific skills, such as stability, altitude awareness, deployment ability, and general competencies proving the ability to be a safety-minded skydiver. 

So, how much does it cost to get a skydiving license in the USA? Check out our AFF pricing page for a comprehensive breakdown of the cost associated with each jump.

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Coach Jumps

AFF entails initially jumping alongside two instructors, then a single instructor. Once these levels are completed, the student will move on to the coach jumps. To earn a Coach rating, a jumper must pass a course, examination, and have at least 100 skydives. Coaches help you advance the freefall and canopy skills needed to earn the USPA A license. 

Hop ‘n Pops 

While AFF entails freefall (hence the name), jumping from a low altitude, waiting just a couple of seconds, and deploying your parachute (i.e. hopping and popping) is required to earn the A license. Hop ’n pops are done solo and show a student’s ability to effectively spot the landing area from the aircraft and gain stability quickly before deployment of the parachute! 

Solo Jumps 

Solo jumps allow the student the opportunity to demonstrate their ability to exit the aircraft, maintain a stable freefall, deploy their parachute, and land safely without direct assistance. These jumps are intimidating at first, but are critical in fostering confidence and ensuring the student can skydive independently! 

A License Certification

After completing the aforementioned jumps, packing your own parachute (and yes, jumping it), passing a written and oral examination, and becoming a USPA member, you’ll earn your USPA A license! Woop woop!

Does that answer all of your questions about how to get a skydiving license in California? If not, connect with us! We’re here to support you. 

What’s Next? 

Once you have your license, the possibilities are endless! Many skydivers jump for fun, some pursue professional paths, like videography, and others explore some of the many exciting disciplines of skydiving. Whatever you choose to pursue in the wonderful world of skydiving, we’ve got you covered with the best coaching and community you can ask for. 

Want to continue in your progression … and maybe even wondering about how to become a skydiving instructor in California? Well, the first step is also earning your A license! And if you’ve landed on this article because you can’t get your head out of the clouds about making your first-ever skydive – what are you waiting for? Come make a tandem with us! Blue skies!

Related Article: Solo Skydiving Requirements

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