So you’re ready to learn to skydive? Fantastic! We’re ready to help you along that fantastic voyage. We’ll start by giving you a sneak peek into the two checkpoints you’ll be crossing along the way: first, graduation from your AFF course; then, earning your USPA A-license. If you’re able to make your student skydives consistently and regularly throughout your solo skydiving training, those two checkpoints will come one-after-another; however, you should keep in mind that they’re distinct.
Wait wait, you say. There’s a difference between graduating AFF and earning your A-license? But I thought those pictures of people with stamps on their foreheads were all the AFF graduates!
Okay. Yes and no. Everyone with a picture on that wall did graduate AFF. They did a bit more, however, before they proudly presented their forehead for a stamp. You see: Graduating AFF simply certifies that the jumper succeeded in completing her licensing coursework and in-air exercises. Earning your USPA A-license means that the jumper has successfully jumped and landed 25 times, as certified by an officially licensed USPA instructor.
Sure, the analogy is imperfect, but you can look at the AFF-vs-A-License distinctions this way:
Just like a standard-issue driver’s license, earning your USPA A-license proves that you’ve passed the tests of the training process. You’ve moved along to the next stepping stone towards more advanced skydiving licenses and ratings. Your A-license allows you to rent skydiving gear and make magnificent skydives at most of the world’s dropzones. There’s a reason that people don’t mind wearing it on their foreheads until it wears off. Getting that stamp is a celebration!
…But that said, there’s more to the story. Y’know how getting your driver’s license doesn’t mean you’re ready to screw a bunch of aftermarket parts on your mom’s old Datsun and do race Pike’s Peak? While it gives you a lot of latitude to make decisions for yourself, getting a first-time drivers license doesn’t mean you should push your limits by getting into heavy traffic situations or borrowing a powerful car just to see how it feels. Quite honestly, earning your drivers license doesn’t even mean that you have to drive without supervision if you still like the feeling of a competent someone-else in the car. The same is true for skydiving.
The A-license stamp means, “Okay – You’re ready to go out into the skydiving world and start learning, jump-by-jump, on your own.” With that stamp, your instructor is approving you as a safe enough, competent enough solo skydiver to begin your lifelong learning process outside the heavily structured environment of the well-trodden solo skydiving certification curriculum that the AFF course represents.
Make no mistake: passing your AFF and then successfully earning your A-license are no small accomplishments. Between meeting the challenge and enjoying the ensuing party, almost every jumper in the sky will tell you that it’s the best thing they’ve ever done.
Discover it for yourself! Earn that USPA A license with us at Skydive Tecumseh, and begin to discover all that skydiving has to offer. We can’t wait to see your forehead graced with a great big “A”!