Training Toward a USPA Skydiving License
Our staff instructors are experts at teaching new jumpers the skills needed to obtain their first skydiving license. This is a Federation Aeronautique Internationale certificate of proficiency issued through the United States Parachute Association and recognized worldwide. A new skydiver can earn the USPA A license in as few as 25 jumps, and most do.
Bird's Paradise Extreme Resort cuts no corners in equipment and training. Our parachutes and accessories include only the latest models of the most popular skydiving gear.
Our training program follows the USPA Integrated Student Program step by step. This is an eight-stage program of instruction meant to build your skills and confidence together as you study and practice freefall skills, open parachute handling skills, safety and reserve parachute procedures, equipment understanding and operation, aircraft procedures and familiarization with skydiving operations, and the rules skydivers follow to keep the sport safe for themselves and others.
The eight stages are called "categories" and lettered A through H.
The first category of the ISP includes one or two jumps, and our school has chosen to use the tandem skydiving method of instruction. Since the instructor handles the equipment, aircraft procedures, and any safety procedures, you can focus on freefall and steering the open parachute. The first jump gets you through the amazing and overwhelming feeling of freefall, although you may want to add the additional challenge of opening the parachute on your own. It's not hard, but there's a lot going on during anyone's first skydive!
By the second or third tandem jump, you'll find it easy to control the freefall, monitor the altitude, and open the parachute with only a minimum of assistance—sometimes none at all! We introduce you to the safety procedures you would use in the event of an equipment problem, which prepares you to jump on your own. You get thorough training in how to steer the parachute to a safe landing and plenty of opportunity to practice during your tandem jumps with one-on-one instruction from exit to landing.
The freefall portion of Category C is easy with nothing new except that now you wear the parachute. You'll jump with the instructor holding on at first, then releasing you once you appear ready—like taking off the training wheels. The two jumps scheduled in this category build your confidence for the maneuvers you'll try next. You also get a chance to see how the instructor prepares your equipment for jumping, and we explain more about how your parachute steers and the best techniques for landing.
With the confidence you built in freefall during Category C, you're ready to learn how to maneuver your body. We start with simple flat turns in Category D. Most jumpers can get through the 90-degreee, 180-degree, and 360-degree turns required to advance in only two or three jumps.
Now that you've learned to use the parachute and steer to a safe landing, we'll start showing you the performance range over your remaining training jumps. In this category, you'll learn about a new set of controls that increase your options and enjoyment of parachute canopy flight.
We explain all the safety procedures in even greater detail during your second thorough review since the first lesson. We want you to feel prepared. Also, you will learn to inspect your own equipment prior to putting it on. We also explain more details about the emergency back-up systems that you've been equipped with all along, such as the automatic activation device.
By now, you're also ready to begin the procedures to guide the pilot to the right spot for jumping. Everyone agrees that getting your head outside the door actually takes away some of the anxiety and makes you more relaxed as you begin to climb out for the jump.
Congratulations, you've made it through the core of the first and most important part of the program! Once you've shown good turning and heading control skills in Category D, you're ready for some thrilling acrobatics and jumping on your own. We'll show you how to perform three maneuvers: barrel rolls, back loops, and front loops. On the first jump in this category, you will demonstrate your ability to regain stability after aerobatic maneuvers and to know your altitude at all times, no matter what. Once you've completed two maneuvers (usually on the same jump), you're ready to leave the instructor behind.
You'll continue in Category E until you feel you've met the performance minimum standards for each maneuver and recorded them in your skydiving logbook for the instructor to sign. Most students make three or four jumps in Category E, and they're much more economical without the instructor along.
Since the landing is the most important part of skydiving, we'll look at how to improve your landings and how to evaluate each different parachute you'll ever jump to get the best landing.
At this time, we'll begin to teach you how to pack the parachute, so you'll have plenty of time to practice before your A License check dive.
It's time to learn about the world of the jump pilot. During a thorough briefing, you will explore what's involved with flying a jump plane so you will know how to cooperate to make the pilot's job easier and your jump safer.
The rest of your training prepares you to jump with other licensed jumpers, which is half the fun of skydiving! We start in this category with the skills you'll need to fly away to a safe opening distance from others in your freefall formation group. We review the lessons you've already been introduced to about how to handle your parachute when others are coming down at the same time and how to respond to problems.
Meanwhile, you'll continue to explore the range of your parachute canopy, this time adjusting the glide and learning to maneuver safely when low to the ground. These are important lifesaving skills that will serve you throughout your skydiving career.
We delve deeper into selecting the correct spot to jump. We'll also examine aircraft procedures for interacting during the jump run from a bigger plane that carries multiple groups exiting on the same pass.
Categories G and H
Good news: someone to jump with again! This time, you take your instruction from a USPA Coach, who is trained to teach you how to fly in freefall formation groups.
At first, you'll close the short distances your coach sets up for you, learning to fly in an efficient straight line while dealing with changes in fall rate. Then your coach will leave several seconds before you, and you'll have to swoop down to make up the difference. This is definitely a thrilling and rewarding time for a skydiving student, and you're almost ready for the big top!
We'll finalize your canopy training with some performance maneuvers that will build your confidence and safety margin, as well as help you get the most from your canopy ride. Each of the topics is designed to make you safer in groups and prevent you from mistakes you might make if you don't know the limits of your parachute's performance.
We'll look at weather, how to judge an aircraft that's taken care of adequately, how to take care of your own skydiving equipment, and a few other practical matters that will make you a more informed skydiving consumer. Now you're ready for your test!
A License Check Dive
The Chief Instructor at the drop zone wants you to show what you know. It's not the most challenging jump, just a few maneuvers and a close-in dock exercise. However, the instructor will watch you prepare for the jump using the skills and knowledge you've gained during all your training.
At each category, the instructor asked you to study some basic questions and answers about skydiving. Now you will review some of them for your check dive. The examiner simply wants to know that you're ready to make the judgments and preparations needed to jump safely with others without an instructor's supervision.
The USPA license requires 25 jumps, which most people accomplish about the same time as their training completes. Your complete USPA A license is issued officially on the spot for no charge, but you may also register it with USPA ($30 fee) to receive an A-license number and card. Once your license is on file, you never have to worry about losing the original paperwork issued at the drop zone when you passed your A-license check dive.
We have special deals for an AFF course (Category A-E). Please contact us for more details.