Solo Skydiving License Requirements: The Difference Between Graduating AFF and Earning Your A-license
On the path to receive your solo skydiving license, you’ll have two major hurdles to cross — Completing your Accelerated Free Fall (AFF) training and taking the required twenty-five jumps to receive your USPA A-license. These are the big steps to take toward skydiving all on your own.
SKYDIVING ON YOUR OWN: WHERE TO START
Obtaining an AFF license is the fast track to learning how to skydive. This is where you will be taught how to exit the plane, remain aware of altitude, free fall in a stable position, perform maneuvers, deploy from a stable position at the right time, assess and react to an emergency, fly your canopy, and land safely. At Ozarks Skydive Center, you learn these skills over a series of seven specific jumps with an instructor (or two) beside you and coaching you every step of the way, all from 12,000 feet.
Graduating from AFF training certifies that you’ve succeeded in completing your licensing coursework and in-air exercises. Earning your A-license comes after you’ve successfully jumped and landed 25 times. After this, an officially licensed USPA instructor must certify that you’re okay to go out into the world and skydive by yourself. This last jump is called a “check-out,” and it usually ends with you receiving a USPA A-license stamp in your logbook and (selfie alert), maybe on your forehead.
WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?
When you receive your A-license, it means that skydiving professionals agree that you’re ready to learn. You are approved as being safety conscious and competent enough as a solo skydiver to begin your lifelong learning process outside the heavily structured environment of the AFF curriculum. Your A-license allows you to rent skydiving gear and make jumps at most of the world’s dropzones. Always check before you travel as local conditions and policies may vary.
LEARNING TO FLY
A great comparison to this process is similar to learning to drive:
Your AFF is driving school.
Completing your 25 jumps is your supervised learners permit.
Earning your A-license is like passing your drivers’ test and getting your driver’s license.
As you know, merely getting your driver’s license doesn’t mean you’re ready to hit the racing circuit. It doesn’t mean you should push your limits by driving in heavy traffic or by borrowing a powerful car just to see how it feels to drive. It doesn’t even mean that you have to drive unsupervised if you don’t feel like it. Just like a driver’s license, the skydiving A-license proves that you’ve passed the tests of the training process and you are ready for the next steps in more advanced skydiving licenses and ratings.
Passing your AFF and earning your A-license is no small thing. They’re both challenges, and you should be very proud of successfully meeting them! Ask any seasoned jumper about either or both, and they will tell you getting through the process is the best thing they have ever done.