The Rating Corner | Apr 01, 2020
Rating Corner | D-License Changes

Michael Wadkins

For years, the USPA Board of Directors heard feedback from members who felt that the night-jump requirement for the USPA D License was outdated. The number of night-jump waivers submitted by applicants to the Safety & Training Committee attest to this fact. At its February meeting, the USPA Board of Directors agreed that the system needed adjustment and changed the licensing requirements to better reflect the evolution of the sport and the needs of the membership. The new requirements—which go into effect on May 1—include a number of options that USPA Instructors and Safety and Training Advisors should be aware of as they begin to validate new applications. The new requirements apply only to the D license, PRO-rating holders must still complete night jumps.

The USPA D License is the organization’s highest license and denotes master-parachutist status. The original reasoning behind the requirement of making two night jumps to achieve this license (along with jump-number, freefall-time and accuracy-landing requirements) was to ensure that D-license holders had a high level of expertise and could also perform outside of their comfort zones (under stress). Though night jumps are fun and exhilarating, and the tradition has been a part of skydiving for years, there are other ways parachutists can demonstrate their expertise. The Safety & Training Committee crafted a solution that provides equally challenging options to demonstrate expertise but also maintains the night-jump tradition for those who wish to uphold it.

Jumpers can now either make two night jumps to qualify for a D license or complete one of the following tasks, which are designed to demonstrate advanced skills and take the applicants out of their comfort zones:

1 | Land within seven feet of the target center on 50 jumps. The objective is for applicants to demonstrate that they are advanced, thorough and consistently accurate canopy pilots. This skill set also helps prepare D-license holders for ratings such as PRO and tandem instructor, where canopy skills are paramount.

2 | Participated in a canopy formation of a 3-stack or larger. The D-license applicant must meet the initial qualifications and training requirements and have the appropriate equipment as outlined in Skydiver’s Information Manual Section 6-6.

3 | Completed an intentional water jump. The applicant must land under parachute in an open body of water that can be from the size of a small lake to an ocean as long as it is deep enough for the applicant to be able to tread water and swim (approximately 10 feet or deeper). Swoop ponds do not qualify. The participant may use a flotation device. The participant must meet the initial qualifications and training requirements and have the appropriate safety equipment (boats, floatation gear, lifeguards) as outlined in SIM Section 6-5.

4 | Successful completion of 100 formation skydives, at least 25 of which must involve at least eight participants. These skydives, which can be in any formation skydiving discipline as spelled out in SIM Section 6 or the Skydiver’s Competition Manual, must include at least one planned point. The participants must meet the initial qualifications, training requirements and have the appropriate equipment as outlined in SIM Sections 6-1, 6-2 and 6-9.

The USPA Board of Directors purposely chose items from SIM Section 6—Advanced Progression when designing the new requirements for the master license. All four of the skill-requirement options help prospective D-license holders pursue new, challenging areas of the sport and develop the expertise necessary to advance. USPA’s licensing program will now reflect more accurately the demands of holding a D license. As an instructor or S&TA, it is your responsibility to understand the new system and each of the options so that you can help skydivers advance their skills in the area of their choice and then validate their D-license applications when they meet the requirements. Those with questions about the new requirements may email

Michael Wadkins | D-18691
North Central Regional Director; Chair, Safety & Training Committee

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