Rating Corner | Guiding New Graduates
By Jim Crouch
Have you ever spent months working with a student, ensuring that you covered each category and transferred the necessary knowledge and skills, then proudly stamped the A-license card and watched in disbelief as he ran off to sign up for a 10-way speedstar competition with a freshly mounted GoPro on his helmet?
You never know how a student will react to the freedom of an A license. Often, it depends on your drop zone’s culture. Still, most newly licensed jumpers want to proceed with caution, so rather than throwing your freshly A-licensed jumpers to the wolves, spend some time with them to discuss the dos and don’ts of their exciting new sport. While the Integrated Student Program is thorough and covers a lot of ground, there is a whole skydiving world beyond student training, and each new license holder can benefit from the guidance of a trusted instructor.
Some drop zones have created their own checklists of items that an instructor can cover with a newly licensed jumper. Now that the pressure of student training is over, the new A-license holder will be ready to retain additional information about:
• Renting gear
• How to approach buying that first parachute system
• Assuming nobody is looking out for them in any phase of the skydive, from freefall to canopy descent and landing
• Continuing to perform and receive gear checks on every skydive
• Starting small and progressing to larger jumps cautiously (start with 2-ways and 3-ways, etc.)
• Learning to freefly in a controlled environment with a skilled coach (covering the hazards of collisions and that trying to learn by jumping with other newbies is a bad idea)
• Defensively flying their canopies (assume that nobody sees you, do not fly below and behind another canopy where the other jumper can’t see you and could fly into you)
• The wisdom of always having a plan B in freefall or under canopy in case the jump does not go as planned
• The drop zone’s camera rules and recommendations
• Traveling to other drop zones
This is just a small sample of the topics you’ll want to cover with your graduates to help them manage the complex world of the newly licensed skydiver. Let’s help them enter that world safely.
Jim Crouch | D-16979
USPA Director of Safety & Training