The journey from first jump to A licence is clearly defined. You decide you want to skydive, you book onto either an AFF or a Category Systems course and you progress through the levels until you reach A licence status somewhere between 18 and 25 jumps later.
Once you have your A licence, you’ll want to start working toward your B licence. The aim of this post is to give you a better understanding of what you should/could be doing from A licence to B licence.
What is a skydiving A licence and what does it mean?
So, you’ve achieved your A licence; but what does that actually mean?
It means, first and foremost, that you’ve completed your training as a student and shown proficiency in all the skills we need to see – including a good body position, ability to remain in control and stable, ability to regain stability from instability and some additional skills such as turning and tracking, which will continue to be essential all through your skydiving career.
Up to this point, you’ll have been taught to be more and more independent but at the point of gaining your A licence, that independence levels up again, and you’ll be expected to do things like manifesting for yourself, investing in your own equipment and, to an extent, making your own (educated) decisions.
Getting comfortable as a licenced skydiver
The first step to B licence is therefore to gain experience with this new independence. One of the criteria for gaining your B licence is ’50 descents’ so you’ve got plenty of time to start adding new skills; taking the first 10 jumps after A licence to just think about enjoying your newfound status as an experienced skydiver will reap rewards in adding confidence and knowledge of how your body flies.
Here are some ideas for jumps you could do straight after gaining your A licence.
- Practice your turns using the sun as a reference point – try 360s, 90s, 180s… see how well you can start and stop your turns
- Practice your tracking – this is a lifesaving skill that you’ll continue to need more and more through your skydiving career, so have a go at tracking 5 seconds one way, 5 seconds the next – speak to an instructor about how do this safely
- Ask someone to help you out with an unstable exit – sit with your back facing the door, roll into a ball and we’ll tip you out!
You can also ask an instructor or an FS coach to explain the new ‘mantis position’ that we’ll be encouraging you to adopt as you start to learn formation skydiving skills (the qualification you need to be able to jump with your friends). You can give this a try by yourself on some of your early jumps.
Your skydives don’t all need to be focused on ‘progression’ in the sense of learning new skills, either. You can learn a huge amount – and have a lot of fun – by simply getting used to flying your body and the effect the air has on you. Doing ‘silly’ things like trying to fly like Superman, or doing a front loop, or seeing if you can put your hands on your head, will all make you a better flyer overall! Or just get out and look around – how often do we give ourselves the opportunity to just take in the views?
Jumping with your friends
Once you’re feeling comfortable and confident as a solo skydiver, it’s time to learn to jump safely with other people! That’s where the qualification FS1 comes in.
FS1 stands for Formation Skydiving Grade 1, but it’s not just about being able to fly in ‘formations’. The ‘formation’ component of it (where we teach you how to make shapes in the sky by holding onto one another) is actually just a proxy for teaching you to be safe with your friends.
To get the point of being able to jump with your friends (by achieving your FS1 sticker), you’ll need an FS coach. Fortunately for Langar jumpers, our Progression School means there are lots of coaches around and all evaluated to a higher standard than the minimums set by British Skydiving – but at no additional cost to you. Simply come to Manifest, ask them to put out a call for a coach for you and, when one arrives, you’ll purchase a Coaching Ticket that covers the jump plus all the pre-briefing and de-briefing that goes with it.
The FS1 programme itself is structured around a number of skills that facilitate flying close to other people, including fall rate control (fast and slow), horizontal movement (forwards, backwards and side to side), plus in place turns, grip presentation (presenting parts of your body to be picked up by your friend(s)) and grip taking (picking up grips on your friends).
You’ll also learn a new skill – swoop to pin – which is important in enabling you to safely approach other people in the sky, and practice an existing skill – tracking – with some enhancements to make this life-saving skill more efficient and more effective.
Other B licence skills / requirements
To obtain your B licence, as well as a minimum of 50 jumps, you also need qualifications called JM1 and CT1.
JM1 is Jump Master 1 and refers to the skills relating to taking control of a plane load of skydivers. That includes being able to check people’s equipment prior to boarding – “flight line checking” – being able to plan the jump order, and understanding where skydivers are intended to be dropped and being able to check that it’s safe to jump – “spotting”.
CT1 is the progression from Student CT (Canopy Training) and continues your education around how a canopy flies and additional skills to help you be a more accurate and effective canopy pilot. This is something you can do as part of a canopy course, if you wish, which gives you an additional layer of knowledge – look out for Flight One courses or courses with Ally Milne for this. You can learn CT1 without a canopy course, too.
You’ll need briefs on all of these skills and to make this easier for you, we regularly host B Licence Evenings which you book onto and get all the briefs you need over a 2-3 hour period. Check our website for the next available B Licence Evening and to book your slot.
All of these skills need to be recorded on your B Licence Record Sheet which, along with your marked CT1 written exam, will be presented to the Chief Instructor (CI) or an Advanced Instructor (AI) for review. Once you have your JM1 and CT1 stickers in your licence, you’ll send this, along with your marked CT1 exam and your B Licence Application Form (find these in the kit store) to the British Skydiving office. They’ll then send your British Skydiving Licence back to you with your B licence accreditation added.
Enjoying the skydiving community
Ask anyone what their favourite things about skydiving are and you’re pretty much guaranteed to hear something about the amazing people and community that surrounds the sport.
As a qualified skydiver, it’s worth getting yourself involved in the social things that happen around the DZ, as well as the opportunities for learning and progression. Here at Langar, we have events on most weekends and they offer chances for you to meet new people, even if you’re not quite ready to get involved in the jumps yet.
Boogies in particular are great for meeting people as there are non-jumping elements planned in, things like quizzes and live music sessions and meals that make it even easier to meet new friends. You can find out more about Boogies here, and check out our upcoming events on Facebook.
Plus, providing it’s safe to do so, our on-site bar opens after jumping most weekends and some weekdays, and it’s a good place to meet other skydivers and share stories from the day.
As always, if you have any questions, speak to one of our instructors.