All About the Skydiving License

All About the Skydiving License

Published: April 21, 2021

Was it a movie? Someone's inspiring Instagram posts? Or have you always wanted to fly like Superman or Wonder Woman? Once many of us taste flight, we forever look up and dream of flying. That's why we'll share the steps to take skydivinng lessons, become licensed and then experience everything for yourself at Skydive OC!

First Steps

The usual first step to becoming a skydiver is a tandem jump. This is where you are paired with an experienced and appropriately rated instructor and harnessed to them for the entire experience. Some skydiving centers do not require you to make a tandem skydive beforehand, but let us give you a behind-the-scenes look as to why we encourage this first step.

Get the Full Experience

With abbreviated training, tandem skydiving offers the full experience without all the ground training required for solo skydiving. You'll get a guided first-hand look and experience all the sensations such as how to climb into the plane, the cool blast of air rushing in and enhanced engine sounds when the door opens, the feeling from freefall to the parachute opening, and the views while experiencing canopy flight as you float back to earth.

Investment of Time

Since the training is shorter, this gives you more of an opportunity to enjoy all the little moments of the canopy ride, freefall, and canopy descent without the worry of doing it all yourself.

Is it Really For You?

This short investment is a great opportunity to discover if skydiving is really for you. Believe it or not, many people who've come through the door with the intentions of going solo decided that it wasn't their jam after their first tandem skydive. We respect that. However, many others who've tried tandem love it, but they just didn't know where to go next. We'll help you with that, too!

What's After the Tandem Skydive

If you can't get skydiving out of your mind, then it's time to take the next steps which is signing up for a solo course. Here are a few types of training you'll see:

Static Line or IAD

This program focuses on exiting the airplane at a lower altitude with the parachute opening straight away. It is a program designed to focus on canopy control and then progress to freefall.

AFF - Accelerated Freefall

This is the older version of skydiving's national organization, called the United States Parachute Association [USPA], solo training. It is a seven-level training program, mainly focused on freefall, with an instructor to get you to solo status.

ISP - Integrated Student Program

This is a category-based program updated and designed by USPA, incorporating a minimum of eight jumps with an instructor and the remaining jumps with a coach. The ISP focuses on freefall, canopy, and ground training.

AFP - Advanced Freefall Program

This is a program based off of AFF and ISP but usually includes all the jumps to get you to your A-License. You jump with instructors throughout the program, and sometimes coaches, at the end of your training.

To earn your first skydiving license, you'll need a minimum of 25 jumps and several in-air and under canopy skills, so make sure you research what happens after you solo. You want to look for structured programs that guide you to your license.

How to Earn Your First Skydiving License?

You'll need to complete the solo skydiving program of your choice while your instructors guide you through completing your A-license ground, in-air, and canopy skill requirements. This usually consists of:

  • 25 jumps
  • Demonstrated freefall skills such as tracking, instability to recovery and different style exit techniques
  • Demonstrated canopy skills such as flying a landing pattern, using different control inputs, and stand-up landing
  • Demonstrated equipment knowledge
  • Demonstrated aircraft procedures and spotting techniques
  • Reviewing canopy landing hazards
  • Reviewing emergency procedures

The Next Licenses

USPA offers A through D licenses that allow you to exercise different privileges with each license. The A-license basically states that a jumper has proved a basic skill set in various topics and is allowed to safety jumpmaster themselves and jump with other licensed skydivers. Here's what you can look forward to for earning other licenses:


  • Jump from novelty aircraft such as helicopters and hot air balloons or even land on beaches
  • Become a coach at 100 jumps
  • Perform a night jump



  • Become an AFF or tandem instructor

There's an exciting world of unique opportunities in skydiving, and earning your skydiving licenses are the gateway for those adventures. Although Skydive OC does not offer solo skydiving training, we are a great place to start with a tandem skydive. Book your first jump with us today!

Can't say enough about the professional quality of my whole experience of skydiving.

» Mary Snyder | Read More Testimonials