☑A-License: Now What?

Posted by

For those of you asking, “What is an A-license?” It's the first requirement after you’ve decided to learn how to jump solo. It’s your entry into skydiving after you’ve decided to turn it into a hobby. After all of the training and hard work to become a “licensed jumper,” it’s a membership made official by a license that is issued through the United States Parachute Association (USPA) and you can officially skydive around the world.

And for those of you asking, “Okay… I wanted my license, I accomplished my goal, but didn’t plan this far ahead. Now what?” Let’s get into some details and tips on what’s next! Watch out, the journey has only just begun.

After all the tireless days putting on that student rig that feels like it’s 80lbs, those glorious black and teal jumpsuits, strapping up that radio to your chest strap… The day has finally come. You got that stamp on your forehead and nothing can stop you now! Those student landings didn’t even hurt (you tell yourself) - I can do anything!

Okay, you have your stamp, you got the group photo, you got that weird chant everyone simultaneously yelled and you’ve bought the beer. You’re ready to jump and start thinking to yourself, “Wait… Gear? How do I buy my own rig? Where?! Facebook?! That seems insane.” “The dropzone looks bigger now than I remember… This is awesome! But I don’t see that one friend I learned with. Maybe I just want to hang out in the FU room, actually.” “How do I even ask other people to skydive with me? Actually, I’ll just do a solo. Again.” These might be some conversations coming up in your mind once you leave the nest and that’s completely normal! And let me emphasize: You’re LEAVING the nest of the classroom, your AFF-I and using your wings. Get out there and fly!

But how is the question, right? Alright, let’s start with gear. The best place to look for gear is locally, whether that is at your own dropzone, or surrounding ones. We don’t always get that lucky to find what we need, but it’s the first step. Ask around. Don’t be afraid to talk to other skydivers and instructors. Post on your local dropzone Facebook groups and start scanning general Facebook skydiving pages. Once you start talking with sellers, be wary of scams and use your resources. It’s a small world in the sport and likely, an experienced jumper will have mutual friends with the seller or the rigging loft is a great place to refer as well. We could go into a lot of detail of what to look for, but that’s for each individual jumper, their body type and their needs. 

These are great conversations to have with experienced jumpers and people you learned from. Ask your S&TA, your tandem instructor, your AFF-I. Any instructor at the dropzone can help guide you. Sometimes that might feel intimidating, but remember: We’ve all been there before. You’ll get a lot of different types of answers, but all relatively similar, so start filtering through and do your own research on top of it. It also doesn’t hurt to ask new jumpers as well what they just bought and why! And this relates to our next point: How to start skydiving with others and making friends in the sport.

I’m going to let you in on a little secret: Let that little kid in you run free. Talk to people, let that guard down, let loose. As adults, it seems like we don’t typically make friends like we used to when we were young. With skydiving, that narrative changes. You have a hangar-full of adult kids to play with who all want to do the same thing! Jumping out of the sky! The variations of how they want to do that are different, so find your building blocks: Belly skydiving. 

There are organizers eager to jump with you and luckily at CSC, there is a mentor program and Solo Looking To Build weekends. If there is anything I can’t emphasize enough, it’s to take advantage of the mentor program. Zoo dives are fun, don’t get me wrong. And you learn A LOT from fearing your life on one… But also make sure to hone those skills you just learned with a coach from the program, organized jumps from LO's and DZ events as well as scheduled courses. This way you can pave your way into the next discipline you see in your future. Another huge advantage of being a jumper at CSC are all of the incredible opportunities there are to take advantage of, like Flight-1 courses with the absolutely incredible, Maxine Tate. I've seen skydivers with thousands of jumps come out of her courses with a better understanding of their canopy and the sport. The more knowledge you can soak up now, the better and safer of a skydiver you will be not only now, but really importantly, later. We're in this for the long haul.

Outside of mentors and organizers, it really just comes down to taking down any walls you might have and just asking people around the dropzone if they want to jump together. Rejection is normal, don’t let that deter you. It’s part of the process. Everyone is on a mission and theirs might just be a different level than you’re at just yet. And if you can, find someone to jump with regularly, like a teammate. You learn with each other, learn how the other is in freefall and can watch your progression in a different way together. 

Getting your license and introducing yourself into this world really is an accomplishment. It’s unlike anything else I’ve yet to experience. I’ve watched many people start in the sport and one recurring theme I’ve seen is the rise in confidence. A lot of times a New-Found-Self in a way. So, get out there and give it all you’ve got and find your people! Learn something new, do something that scares you and be a good person. Isn’t that what life is all about anyways?

Here at CSC, our instructors, organizers and staff, even our long-time fun jumpers, take a lot of pride in the sport - from the tandem students, FreeFall University students, safety, to the gear, to our licensed jumpers. Ask any of us for some direction, or better yet, ask us for a jump! Welcome to the family, see ya’ in the sky.




Haley started her skydiving journey in 2011, when her older brother gifted her first tandem jump shortly after her 18th birthday in Moab, Utah. In 2017, skydiving still wouldn't leave her thoughts, so she moved to Moab to start jumping and it's been the main theme ever since, taking her around the world. Haley is an AFF-I, Videographer and Tandem Instructor at Chicagoland Skydiving Center. Her main focus in skydiving, other than the passion for working in the sport, is freeflying and canopy work. When she's not skydiving, you can find her cooking, petting dogs and spending time outside.