Congratulations, you’ve achieved your skydiving A licence! A whole world of new experiences, new people and new fun in the sky awaits…
And while your journey from novice to A licence holder has been pretty well defined, what comes next is relatively open. The purpose of this blog post is to help you understand what happens once you’ve achieved your British Skydiving A Licence.
If you have any questions, queries or concerns, you can always speak to an instructor.
What changes… and what stays the same?
The biggest change from student status to A licence holder is that you’ll be more independent in your skydiving. That’s not to say that you can’t seek help from instructors (you always can), but you will be expected to manifest yourself and make your own decisions on when to jump.
What stays the same is the requirement to be safe and, of course, to have fun! You’ve learned loads of skills during your progression from first timer to now that you’ll continue to use in the sky – the big ones being altitude awareness and a good pull, but also things like different exits (presentation is key!), turns, tracking… you get to continue enjoying those skills by yourself and later, with a further qualification, with other people too.
New equipment considerations
There are various equipment changes to be aware of now you’re moving off student status.
Your canopy options will now change. Refer to form 330 for more details – the key takeaway being that you may now be able to jump smaller, potentially higher performance parachutes and with additional power comes additional responsibility… Your instructor will cover all of this with you during your A licence brief.
Another change is that you now need a hook knife to jump. The hook knife is something you can buy on its own and it comes in a pouch which you then thread onto your own chest strap, or the chest strap of the rig you are hiring. Hook knives also come as part of a container if you request it, often attached on the shoulder strap or sometimes the leg strap. You can buy yourself one from the Air Supply shop on site (remember – your 10% student discount ends when you get your A licence so go and grab one now!).
You’ll still need an RSL, as you did as a student. You’ll also still need an AAD but, unless you’re still using our student kit to hire, it will be in Expert or Pro mode. Again, your instructor will cover what this means and further considerations during your A licence brief.
Time to buy your own gear – use your 10% discount now!
Remember those shared student jumpsuits and “well loved” goggles and gloves? As an A licence skydiver, it’s time to invest in your own equipment and you can grab a pair of goggles and gloves from Phil at Air Supply with a 10% discount (which expires once you have your A licence, so grab them now!).
When it comes to jumpsuits, there are various options to choose from and our instructors can help you find the best one for you. The main choice you’ll make is between what’s called an FS (formation skydiving) suit and an FF (freeflying) suit. You can find a blog post all about suit choices here, or speak to any of us for help (and be sure to speak to the instructors you jumped with as they can advise you on fit based on your fall rate).
You might also want to get your own helmet. Many people acknowledge that, once you get to B licence, you can buy what’s called a ‘full face helmet’ which is one with a visor that – you guessed it! – covers your full face. As an A licence skydiver, you can only jump an open face. But don’t feel like buying an open face is a wasted investment – many people prefer them even when they can jump a full face and if you choose something with a moduler system like a Cookie Fuel, you can use it later in your skydiving journey as your camera helmet (speak to Emily, Rich, Cookie, Ally etc about this, they’re all Cookie sponsored athletes).
Your own alti is also an important purchase and you can choose analogue (the ‘clock face’ style you’ve been using so far) or digital. There are various manufacturers of these too, and they all do very similar jobs. A number of instructors are sponsored by L&B (which makes Viso and others) or Alti-2 Europe (which makes Neptune, Atlas and more) so speak to any of us for help. You can also consider buying an audible altimetre – again, ask us and we can explain further.
Then there’s the bigger purchase – your own rig. You can buy second hand (places like Facebook – UK Skydiving Gear for Sale, Skydiving Kit Sales etc are good groups) are good places to find rigs, or invest in brand new. Again, we have different sponsors amongst the instructor team so speak to any of us for advice on which manufacturer to choose, or visit Phil at Air Supply, where you’ll benefit from his kit hire offers too.
Now that you have your A licence, the conditions in which you are allowed to jump are technically the same as any other experienced jumper – which isn’t necessarily a good thing.
As your instructor will explain in your A licence brief, just because you can jump, doesn’t mean you should. Be sure to take guidance from someone more experienced and develop your own educated understanding of what’s best for you.
Your new status does, however, open up an exciting new array of skydiving opportunities! Your first port of call should be our Progression School, which is unique to Langar and focused on making coaching better and more available across grade 1 disciplines – meaning formation skydiving (FS1), freeflying (FF1) and tracking (TR1) primarily. All of these are really cool new ways you can learn to fly, and there’s so much to learn and do in each.
Most people start with FS1, as this teaches the basic principles of learning to fly safely with other people. Finding an FS coach is easy these days, as we have plenty around and those affiliated with the Progression School have been evaluated to ensure the content they teach, and the way they teach it, is of a super high standard (and aligns with the British Skydiving instructor requirements). To get FS coaching, simply turn up on the day and ask at Manifest, or post on our Langar Skydivers Facebook page to book someone in advance.
Once you have your FS1, you’ll be able to jump with other people and later take advantage of the many events we have throughout the year, including FS1+ (small group FS jumps), Bigway Beginners (learn to jump in bigger groups), walk up load organising (turn up on the day and join FS groups) and more.
You’ll also be able to enjoy our 4 big events through the year – the Boogies! A ‘boogie’ is basically a big skydiving festival, with lots of exciting and fun jumps through the day and often parties and other social activities in the evenings. Expect to meet lots of new people, have new experiences and learn new things.
Start working toward your B licence
Now is also the time to start working toward your B licence. To achieve this, and unlock the benefits therein (including jumping a full face helmet), you’ll need:
- An A licence
- 50 jumps
The 50 jumps part is down to you! The rest (CT1 including its exam and practical exercises, JM1 including packing) needs you to join one of our regularly planned B licence evenings. Check our website to find and book onto the next one.
You’re not alone!
We know how exciting it is to get your A licence. But we also know how daunting it can seem when you’re first left ‘alone’ as a skydiver.
Hopefully your time during consols and through the Category System programme has left you feeling well prepared for this but ours is a sport where ongoing learning is absolutely essential. If there’s ever anything you feel unsure about, want to better understand or you’re just looking for some ideas on what to do on your next jump, please speak to an instructor. We’re here to help.