Congrats on passing Dive Flow 18! Now What?

Welcome, skydiver! With just a few skydives left until you earn your A license, you will soon be able to jump at almost any drop zone in the world. So what are you going to do next? 🙂

Please note that even though you’re almost licensed now, that’s just the beginning! Your A license is a license to learn and we expect you’ll have quite a few questions now that you’re in charge of your own destiny. 🙂 Please always ask us any questions you have and for any help you need, whether that’s practicing skills like handling the aircraft door, coming up with a responsible landing pattern, or learning more about your gear.

Here are a few tips on gear and gaining more skydiving skills quickly and efficiently while staying safe and having a blast in your new sport!

Getting your own gear

If you have not already purchased your own goggles, altimeter, and/or helmet, now’s the time! The Spaceland Pro Shop offers free goggles (up to $20 value) when you buy a helmet and altimeter together.

Also check out our Pro Shop for larger gear purchases such as a jumpsuit and rig. Our staff and instructors are experienced at helping you decide what gear will best suit you at any point in your skydiving career. If you order a complete rig, we also offer a great daily rig rental rate only to Pro Shop customers who buy a complete rig, so you can save money while you wait on your gear to arrive!

The shop also carries used gear if you are working with a tight budget.

As you meet more skydivers, you’ll find that everyone has an opinion about what brand or type of gear is best for you. Listen to what they have to say, but trust your instructors as your best source of advice on what gear best suits your skills and needs.

Annnd… don’t miss our comprehensive Gear Guide to start learning more about selecting your lifesaving equipment!

Accessory changes

Chances are good that you completed your training using goggles, an open-face helmet, and a dial-based visual altimeter. Many jumpers will begin using different accessories once they are licensed, including the following.

Full-face helmet: Many jumpers prefer full-face helmets because of the increased facial protection, reduced wind noise in freefall, and because they’re warmer in winter. However, the lens of a full-face helmet can fog up despite anti-fog coatings anytime it’s humid (and worse when it’s cold out). You can usually clear a fogged lens by opening it under canopy (if the helmet allows) or breathing in through your nose, out through the vent. Practice lens opening and breathing techniques on the ground before jumping!

Digital altimeters: These are more precise than the dial type altimeters, but they require reading the numbers rather than watching needle position on a dial. Familiarize yourself with this on the ground first. Also be aware that digital altimeters require batteries or recharging periodically, while dial-based ones often do not.

Audible altimeter: An audible altimeter in your helmet beeps at altitudes you set according to your preferences. You can use one in the program with your instructor’s permission and guidance. Most experienced jumpers, after graduating, will set three altitudes—breakoff, pull, and decision altitudes. Your instructors can guide you in these altitude choices.

With any gear changes, make sure you fully understand the new gear’s function and practice whatever is possible on the ground before taking off.

How to manifest

Do you know how to manifest yourself yet? It’s not hard! Just check in with manifest when you get to the drop zone and make sure you have money on your account for the day’s jumps. Then when you have a plan for your next jump, go to manifest and politely ask for the following:

  1. Number of slots you need for your group, one if solo
  2. About what kind of call you’d like (30 minutes?), or which load you want if you know already
  3. What type of jump you’ll be doing (belly, etc.)
  4. Name(s) of the jumpers to manifest
  5. Which jumper(s) are renting gear

Note: The manifest station tends to be a fast-paced place, so it’s not a great place to hang out and chitchat. Get your manifest business done and make room for the next jumper to do so as well.

You’re in charge! Make good decisions.

Now that you’re a self-supervising skydiver, you’ll be making your own decisions on most aspects of your skydiving. Here are a few things to consider to keep you safe and skydiving for a long time:

Wind limits: You’ve been cleared to jump up to about 25mph. That said, you can certainly set a lower personal wind limit, and you may even choose to stop jumping in lower winds if they are turbulent. Keep an eye on the ground winds on the load clock and pull off the load if they exceed your comfort level. (Hint: You can access the load clock for all of our locations from that link!) Don’t let anyone push you into jumping if you don’t feel comfortable with the wind (or cloud) conditions.

Winds aloft: Ground winds aren’t the only winds; make sure you are checking winds aloft as well (you should be doing this to know the spot anyway). For example, if you’re planning a high pull and the winds aloft are 50mph, maybe this is not the best day for that.

Jumping without a jumpsuit: Summer is HOT and it’s great to jump without a jumpsuit to stay cooler! Your clothing should still be close-fitting and tucked in so extra fabric can’t flap around and get in the way of your handles. Check with your instructors if you are not sure if your clothing is freefall-friendly. Also, keep in mind that there’s a lot of value in dressing for success, and that often includes dressing consistently (you’d be surprised at how different baggy jeans fly vs. skinny jeans, for example!). There is also great value to having your own jumpsuit so you have a 100% consistent flying surface.

Downsizing: Changing to a smaller canopy is something a lot of jumpers want to do, mainly because a smaller canopy will fly faster with that higher wingloading and be able to get forward drive in higher winds. However, that higher wing loading will also make the canopy descend more quickly and lose more altitude in turns; it’s not something to take lightly. Talk with your instructors and strongly consider a canopy course before downsizing.

Skydiving wing loading downsizing charg
This is an example of wingloading changes with increasing jump numbers; this is a GUIDELINE only and each person may differ from it. Check with your instructors for the best guidance on downsizing!

Currency: If you go uncurrent, you’ll need refresher training before jumping again. See the currency chart to know when you’ll go out of currency. You can get part of the training out of the way ahead of time (so you can jump quicker when you get to the drop zone!) by using eSkydiving’s refresher course.

Disciplines: There are so many ways to have fun skydiving, from formation skydiving to angle flying to wingsuits to canopy swooping, and much more. Some of these types of jumps have minimum jump number, knowledge, and skill requirements. Please consult your instructor, dropzone manager, or a Safety and Training Advisor for guidance about a specific discipline BEFORE you try it!

Rig rental

Now that you’re no longer a student, note that students have priority for our rental gear just as you did as a student. If you are renting gear, do not hoard a rental rig in a corner so others can’t jump it. When you are manifested for a load, get your rig and jump it, then return it to the rack after it’s packed unless you’re going right back up on another load.

Note that rental gear is grounded if the winds hit 25MPH. Also, our rental gear isn’t allowed for high pulls or night jumps, and cannot be jumped later than 30 minutes before official sunset.

Lastly, if any damage occurs to any of our equipment while you are using it, you will be expected to pay for repairs or replacement.

Keep working on skills

To continue working on your skills, we recommend jumping with the USPA-rated coaches in our Transitions program. These experienced jumpers will plan small group jumps and fly with you, and video you, providing a fun, useful learning experience on every jump. This coaching is FREE until you have 100 jumps; take advantage of this learning opportunity!

We also have larger groups of skydivers jumping every weekend with our organizers, who put together fun skydives for jumpers of all experience levels. When you arrive in the morning, ask who’s coaching or organizing that day to get hooked up for some great jumps!

Traveling to other drop zones

Now that you are licensed to jump anywhere, you might find yourself traveling to other skydiving centers to find even more new sky friends. Be aware that while the rules at Skydive Spaceland are similar to those followed at many drop zones worldwide, any drop zone can have policies that are specific to that drop zone.

When you jump at a new DZ, always review the aerial photo of the drop zone before jumping and ask a local instructor or experienced jumper to point out wind indicators and local landing hazards (if such a briefing is not volunteered). Also ask about other policies such as landing pattern direction, what degree of landing turns are permitted in the different landing areas that may be available, and any other safety policies you should know before jumping there. You’re already jumping in a new place, so you’ll have enough to worry about without unexpected surprises like finding out the landing pattern is right-hand turns after you’re under canopy!

Also ask about organizing and coaching so you can make new friends and have some awesome skydives!

Breakoff/clearing airspace with larger groups

For the rest of your skydiving career, ensure that you are not close to other skydivers when you deploy your parachute. During the STP program when you were jumping only with one instructor, clear airspace at pull time wasn’t a concern. However, when you jump with larger groups of jumpers, your slice of the pie (sky) at breakoff is smaller than with a 2-way and you need to ensure that you get away from other jumpers at pull time, as collisions can be especially dangerous during parachute deployment.

Plan to break off at an altitude where you are confident you can get the separation you need by pull time. A good rule of thumb is to plan breakoff for 1,500 feet above the highest-deploying canopy in the group. For example, if your highest puller is planning to deploy at 3,500 feet, your breakoff altitude should be at least 5,000 feet.

Also, continually work to improve your flat track so you get all possible separation. Track like your life depends on it, because it does! Horizontal separation is what you want; vertical separation is good, but what if the upper jumper has a cutaway?

If someone is too close to you at pull time, chances are one of you did not track well enough or in the right direction, but it’s too late to fix the issue. It’s pull time, so wave off and save your life. Track better next time!

Note: The minimum deployment altitude for an A-licensed skydiver is 3,000 feet.

The next step: B license!

With a USPA “B” license, you are eligible to do night jumps and test for you USPA Coach rating. Most drop zones and events require a “B” license or higher to jump specialty aircraft (such as helicopters and hot air balloons). With 100 jumps and a “B” license you are also eligible to test for the USPA Coach Rating. To complete your “B” license, you need:

  • An “A” License
  • At least 50 jumps and 30 minutes of controlled free­fall time
    10 landings within 10 meters of the landing target center
  • Completed the planned formation(s) on 10 formation skydives or formation freefly skydives with at least three participants.
  • Completed live water training with full equipment (we conduct water training every few months)
  • Complete the requirements on the USPA Canopy Proficiency Card, which can be done in an appropriate Canopy Course
  • Pass the B license written exam (study guide can be found in appendix B of the USPA SIM)
Flying camera: 200 jumps minimum

Almost everyone wants to fly the tiny, high-quality cameras available today. You want to share your new passion with all your friends, right? Of course you do. But be aware that adding a camera to your skydiving setup is a bigger risk than you may realize.

As a new graduate, you have learned and demonstrated significant skydiving skills! But those skills are not yet practiced enough to be automatic. Before introducing the distraction and line snag potential of a camera, you should do quite a few more skydives without one so that your basic freefall and canopy skills are essentially automatic, freeing up your mind to deal with the additional load of a camera. Jumpers have gotten themselves in some bad situations by focusing on their cameras instead of their survival, and we don’t want this to happen to you!

The USPA SIM recommends a minimum of 200 skydives before you add a camera, and at Skydive Spaceland we follow this recommendation. Talk with your instructors/local camera gurus to understand the safety and distraction challenges of cameras before you add one to your gear; don’t just stick it on and go.

For the ladies!

Have you heard about Sisters in Skydiving yet? This is a program by the United States Parachute Association to provide mentoring, educational resources, and networking for the 15% of skydivers who are female. At Spaceland, we also have a SISters of Spaceland Facebook group to provide the same things, #SpacelandStrong style! This group brings ladies from all Spaceland locations (five locations in three states and counting!) together!

Please join the group to meet more of your skysisters and find out about ladies’ social and safety get-togethers!

No matter what type of skydive you do, what gear you buy, or who you jump with, keep safety as the #1 priority. We want to jump with you for a long time! Thanks for training with us, and please ask us any questions you may have about skydiving.