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Rating Corner | Defining a Freefall Skydive

By Ron Bell

The Rating Corner | September 2019
Sunday, September 1, 2019

At its summer 2018 meeting, the USPA Board of Directors adjusted the requirements for students obtaining A licenses to align with requirements for Féderátion Aéronautique Internationale Certificates of Proficiency. USPA made these changes so license holders would have valid credentials when traveling outside of the U.S. for competitions, events or simply for pleasure. One of these changes was to the wording of the USPA A-license requirements, which now reads that recipients must have made at least “25 freefall skydives,” replacing the previous wording of “25 jumps.”

Some static-line and instructor-assisted deployment instructors are concerned about this change because they assume that their students—who make at least five initial static-line or IAD jumps—will need to make at least five additional jumps to get their A licenses. This is not the case, since the Skydiver’s Information Manual defines portions of the skydive in this manner:

“Freefall: The portion of the parachute jump or drop between aircraft exit and parachute deployment.

Deployment: After activation, extraction of the parachute from the container and extension of the system prior to inflation.”

Under the current definitions, a static-line jump is a freefall jump in which the jumper accrues only a few seconds of freefall time between exiting the aircraft and line stretch, when the parachute extracts from the deployment bag. During this brief freefall, the student works on freefall skills such as the fly-away portion of the exit and a stable body position. So, unless your IAD or static-line student exits the aircraft with a fully deployed parachute, the skydive counts toward the freefall skydive requirements for the A license.

Ron Bell | D-26863
USPA Director of Safety and Training

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