FS1: The Key to Jumping With Your Friends

Skydive LangarAFF, Experienced Skydivers, Static line

3 way skydive fs

FS1 stands for formation skydiving 1 and is the first qualification you’ll aim to get after your A licence.

While formation skydiving is a whole discipline in itself, the name FS1 for this qualification is a little misleading, because that’s not really what it’s about. Instead, think of FS1 as your gateway to jumping with other people. Because you can’t jump with anyone other than a coach or an instructor without it.

3 way skydive fs
3 way exit at Langar, by Spence

How do you get FS1?

To get your FS1, the first step is to get a FS coach. These are highly qualified, experienced FS jumpers who, here at Langar, have been evaluated to the highest level to ensure the teaching they give you will be second to none.

The best way to find a coach is either to sign up for Progression Weekends (second weekend of every month) via our Facebook events, post on Langar Skydivers on Facebook or turn up when it’s nice weather and ask at Manifest.

Once you have a coach, they will talk you through the skills you’ll learn and they’ll ask about your previous experience to find the best way to help you achieve the qualification. If you’ve done AFF here at Langar, you will have been shown many of the skills needed for FS1 during your consols so may have already tried them. If you’ve done Category Systems, you won’t have had this opportunity, so the coach will decide how best to teach you based on what you’ve done before.

The key skills you need to show for FS1 are:

  • Flying stable in the mantis position
  • Forwards and backwards
  • Fast and slow
  • Side slides
  • Turns using arms and legs
  • Grip presentation
  • Grip taking
  • Swoop to pin

All of these skills are then tested in one final jump prior to your FS1 sticker being awarded.

Here at Langar, AFF students tend to achieve their FS1 within an average of 5 jumps, while Category Systems students might take a little longer. The cost per jump is one coaching ticket, the price of which can be found on our pricing page.

fs coaching
FS coaching at Langar, by Emily

What happens once I have FS1?

Once you have your FS1, you’re signed off to jump in groups of a maximum of 3, including yourself. Which means you’re free to go and have fun in the sky with your buddies!

There are lots of ways to make good use of these jumps and the primary one is developing your tracking ability.

The reason FS1 only allows you to jump in small groups is that the life saving skill of tracking needs to be developed prior to joining larger group jumps. You’ll have learned the basics of tracking on your AFF or Category Systems but no doubt you’ll remember it being a little wobbly and perhaps not as straight as it could be.

During your jumps with your FS coach, you’ll develop your tracking skills so earning FS1 means, in part, that the coach is happy you can track in a straight line, 180 degrees from the centre of the formation, to get yourself into a safe space to deply.

Once you have FS1, a big focus should always be on developing your tracking ability further – and this applies even to those people with thousands of FS jumps under their belt, they still need to work to make their track better on every jump because this is what will save your life.

Beyond this, it’s up to you what you do on your jumps. We’ve put together the 3 way dive pool, which is a series of formations/shapes you can make with your friends in the sky. Choose 3 or 4 of them per jump and practice getting together and making those shapes. You can use the creepers in the hangar to practice on the ground before you go up.

Or you might want to do something a bit less formal. Why not have a go at getting together and then all doing a 360 degree spin at the same time (being careful of course not to hit one another!) or throw in a backloop or two? You could try different exits as well, sometimes holding onto one another, sometimes unlinked.

You don’t have to be doing super serious 2 ways and 3 ways all the time, it’s totally up to you, but be sure to focus on a better and better track every time.

FS group over Langar

Getting FS1+

FS1+ is the qualification which we have created here at Langar to allow people to jump in groups of 4 or more.

This may differ to other drop zones, because British Skydiving has only stipulated that each Chief Instuctor have a method of signing people off for larger groups. Be sure to check with your CI what your process is if you don’t usually jump at Langar.

Here at Langar, then, the process of achieving FS1+ starts with the practice through 2 and 3 person jumps, where, as described above, the big focus is on safety and a safe track. Once you’re feeling comfortable in that size of group, it’s time to find an FS coach again to sign you off for FS1+.

The requirement for this is that you do a jump which includes a series of formations. We’re not looking for you to be the next FS champion, but we do need to see that you’re safe – that you are altitude aware, that you can safely approach the formation and that you can safely track away at the agreed break off height.

The FS1+ evaluation jump must include a minimum of one coach and can be a 4, 5 or 6 person jump – this is up to the coach. For example, if it’s Progression Weekend, we can jump in groups to get multiple people signed off at once, or if it’s a little quieter, we might need to enlist three coaches for one student to have enough people. You’re welcome to invite your friends to take part but it’ll be up to the coach to ensure you have a group in which you can be successful.

What to do once you have the sticker

FS1 and FS1+ are the gateway to jumping with your friends. The purpose of the sticker is to say you can do that, and some people may decide that’s enough and move on to trying to achieve another sticker, perhaps FF or TR.

However, based on the experience of our instructors and coaching team, the best way to progress in any discipline is to dedicate yourself to FS for a period of time first. This means developing your skills not just as an FS jumper, but as an all round skydiver. You’ll build confidence and skill in flying relative to other people, you’ll gain awareness on the hill and do better on exits, and you’ll be much better equipped to keep yourself safe.

Look out for FS based events at Langar, including beginner level FS1+ and Bigway Beginners, plus more advanced skills camps and regular ‘walk up load organsing’, which simply means you can turn up and you’ll be added to a group to jump together with an organiser for the day.

Or just have fun! If you’re looking for new, fun stuff to try, ask any one of our instructors or coaching team and we’ll be happy to help. Enjoy!