Saturday, November 26, 2022

Your First Jump

This photo was taken by J.J. Johnson above Skydive Oregon. Visit his website at


Upon arrival at the jump center, all jumpers will be required to fill out a registration form and sign a liability release before jumping. This release will verify that the person understands that there are risks involved in skydiving and that the participant freely agrees to accept those risks. The legal release will usually contain a contract or covenant by which the participant agrees not to sue the skydiving school or anyone else if the participant is injured.


Upon completion of ground school (for AFF, IAD and SL) and before the first jump, it is common practice and good teaching procedure for all students to be required to pass written, oral and practical tests.
Written tests are designed to have the student explain his knowledge and understanding. Oral tests should be used to develop decision-making ability. Practical tests are designed so the student can demonstrate reactions and skills.
Tests will not only assure the instructor that the student has learned but will also give the student confidence that he has learned how to safely make a skydive.

Medical Fitness

All participants in skydiving must meet the USPA's Basic Safety Requirements for medical fitness. A person should be in good health and physical condition to skydive and should not be on medication which could affect judgement or performance. Some medical conditions can be properly managed if the instructor knows about them. People who have recently gone SCUBA diving or donated blood should wait a period of time before skydiving.


In the US, Schools require all participants to be at least 18 years of age.


Approach the aircraft, whether the engine is running or not, ONLY under the direct supervision of a USPA instructional rating holder. Always approach a fixed-wing aircraft from behind the wing.

The Ride Up

You'll sit on the floor or a bench, very close to the other skydivers, likely between their legs, and with the next jumper between yours. Get as comfortable as you can. Follow your instructor's instructions on buckling and unbuckling your seatbelt. Enjoy the view!

Pre-Exit Rituals

Tradition varies from DZ to DZ, but skydivers usually give each other a handshake of some kind just before exiting. This is to wish each other a good, safe and fun skydive. Whatever the tradition is, the pre-exit handshake is usually not a traditional boardroom handshake. Don't shake the other jumpers' hands like you're running for Congress—follow their lead.

Photo by Don Carrington.


As a student, you'll probably be one of the last skydivers to exit. It might be intimidating to see everyone else jump out, but take a deep breath and relax. It's your turn now!


Freefall is one of the most exciting, adrenaline-filled experiences you're likely to ever have. The feeling is different for everyone, so check out the testimonials from people just like you, with one exception—they've fallen towards the earth at 120 miles per hour!

Canopy Flight

Parachutes are also called "canopies" in skydiving. There are many different types and sizes of parachutes. All modern day parachutes are square shaped, not round, and easily steerable.


Sadly enough, there comes a time when the fun is over, but landing a skydiving parachute can be part of the fun. You might see advanced skydivers "swooping" at your drop zone—landing at a high speed, skimming the ground just inches above it, or dragging their toe through a "swoop pond." Student canopies are big and docile, which makes them much more forgiving when learning landing maneuvers. Gone are the days of bone-crushing, scary landings under round parachutes! Today's ram-air canopies allow skydivers of all experience levels to glide softly back to earth.


What A Rush!

Skydiving can be an intense experience. What happens when you're done? For some people, the mere thought of their skydive gets their heart rate up and the adrenaline going again, even days or months after they jumped! They want to tell all their friends about it (several times) and show their video to anyone who will sit still long enough. Other people report that the rest of their life seems so easy compared with the experience of skydiving. This can be a very positive thing; if you can jump out of a perfectly good airplane, you can do anything! Many people skydive to face their fears—of heights, flying or any other number of things. Once they jump, they realize they can face other fears in their life, too. So, what do you do with this newfound passion? Should you quit your job, move to a drop zone and skydive for the rest of your life? Some people do, but that's certainly not the only option! Many people are weekend jumpers or skydive only a handful of times each year. It's something that each person needs to decide how it fits into their life.

Keep Skydiving

Congratulations on making your first skydive! You’re now part of a special minority of the population—not many people have what it takes to go to a drop zone and actually jump out of an airplane! All of us who skydive know exactly how you feel now. It was the most exhilarating and liberating thing you have ever done—EVER! Since the day of your first jump, the sky is bluer, the grass is greener, people are more interesting, and life is better. Now what? Well, you can live the rest of your life with the memory of your first jump, refreshed occasionally by the DVD and photos of that day. But before long, that exhilarating feeling will begin to fade. Colors will begin fading, too, and you’ll settle back into your life’s routine. But you don’t have to. You can keep skydiving. You can have that heart-pounding, life-affirming exhilaration every time you jump, which explains why many people (who only planned to make one jump) take up skydiving as a sport, hobby and even lifestyle. Remember all those happy, laughing, playful people you saw at the drop zone? They were once in the very same position. They made a first jump ... and then continued.

Moving On To Jump #2

So, you’re ready to give it another go? You have essentially the same options for your second jump as for your first. Your local drop zone may offer some or all of these options. If your first jump was a tandem, you can make another tandem, this time as a training jump, and have it count toward your student progression. On a training tandem jump, you’ll pull the ripcord, and you’ll receive training from your instructor on freefall and canopy skills. You can also choose an Accelerated Freefall jump. In AFF, you’ll wear an individual parachute system. Two certified instructors will jump with you, holding on to your harness in freefall. You’ll then deploy your own parachute and have a solo canopy descent with radio assistance to help guide you to a safe landing. Use our online tool to learn more about the AFF program. Some drop zones also offer static-line or instructor-assisted deployment (IAD) training. In these methods, you’ll wear an individual parachute system. You’ll climb out of the airplane, and as you exit, either a tethered lanyard or your instructor will deploy your parachute for you. You’ll then have a solo canopy descent with radio assistance to help guide you to a safe landing. Use our online tool to learn more about the static-line and IAD training programs. Can't decide? Quickly compare the various methods with our useful chart. For supplemental training, take a look at our online ground school. (Note: This is not a course that can be used as complete training for any of your skydives.)

Earning Your Skydiving License

After your second skydive, your next goal should be to earn your skydiving A license—essentially your "Pass Go" card. Your skydiving license is your credential to jump at virtually any drop zone in the world. USPA has been issuing skydiving licenses for over 50 years. It starts with your USPA A license, which you can earn after only 25 jumps and completion of a proficiency card signed by your instructor. Regardless of which training discipline you choose, USPA’s training program advances students through eight categories of proficiency to qualify them for a USPA A license. Each student completes a series of required skills and knowledge sets in each category. At the end of each category, a student in any training discipline will have achieved similar skills and knowledge. The online Skydiver's Information Manual is a great resource to learn more about USPA’s student training program. Your A license says you are a safe, competent skydiver. It allows you to rent gear and jump at most drop zone locations in the U.S. It is also the first stepping stone to more advanced skydiving licenses. So get started now! Earn that USPA A license and begin to discover all that skydiving has to offer!

What's Next? Find out what's Beyond The First Jump...