United States Parachute Association > First-Time & Student Skydivers > FAQs
  1. First-Time & Student Skydivers
  2. Experienced Skydivers
  3. Rating Holders and S&TAs
  4. Drop Zone Management
  5. About USPA
Monday, July 15, 2024

Shortcut Links

Not only can you quickly can find dropzones, events, courses, examiners, and more from the Find menu, you can also enter your favorite shortcut to go directly to the resource you use most often! Here are some of our short URLs for your convenience:

uspa.org/go - Current or Expired Members setup online account Fast Track!
uspa.org/faqs - Frequently Asked Questions
uspa.org/SIM - Skydiver's Information Manual
uspa.org/IRM - Instructional Rating Manual
uspa.org/diveflows - Videos of ISP Category Dive Flows
uspa.org/malfunctions - Videos of Common Malfunctions
uspa.org/vrvideos - VR Videos of Malfunctions
uspa.org/merit - Merit description
uspa.org/quiz - Interactive ISP Category Quizzes
uspa.org/locator - Search for DZs and people
uspa.org/skydiveschool - SkydiveSchool.org Online Ground School
uspa.org/downloads - Download forms, manuals, and more
uspa.org/records - Look up Competition Records
uspa.org/judge-locator - Find a Judge near you
uspa.org/Locator/STA - Find an S&TA near you
uspa.org/me - Your Individual Membership Profile
uspa.org/forgotpassword - Forgot Password Utility
uspa.org/login - Login to your Membership Account
uspa.org/join - Join USPA
uspa.org/donations - Make a Donation
uspa.org/register - Register for a USPA online account
uspa.org/myDZ - View DZ info for your designated Home DZ
uspa.org/dzlocator - Find a DZ near you
uspa.org/check - Verify Membership and Rating Credentials
uspa.org/insurance - Overview of USPA members' Third Party Liability Insurance coverage
uspa.org/MyRatings - Manage Your Instructional Ratings page
uspa.org/Verify - Verify a requirement for another member
uspa.org/BSRs - Section 2 of the SIM
uspa.org/FARs - Section 9 of the SIM


General FAQs

USPA publishes the Skydiving Information Manual (SIM), which contains the most up-to-date information about skydiving. It contains everything from learning to skydive to obtaining all the skydiving licenses and ratings to extreme jumps. It’s available online

There are currently over 200 USPA Group Member skydiving centers or “drop zones,” located within convenient driving distance of most major cities and towns. Find a Group Member DZ.

Anyone can become a member of USPA. You don’t need to be a pro skydiver to support the sport of skydiving and help keep it around for others to join in years to come. Learn about the benefits and join online.

Yes, the FAA regulates skydiving. USPA disseminates industry safety standards.

People have been parachuting for hundreds of years. Learn more about the history of skydiving.

Competition, Records and Judging

All USPA members are welcome to attend the National Championships. Members not eligible for medals or the U.S. Team will be entered as guests. See SCM Chapter 1 for more information.

USPA has a stock of medals perfect for framing as gifts to sponsors. For more information please send an email to competition@uspa.org

Registration methods vary depending on the host. Please contact us for more information about a particular event.

All active USPA judges are listed on our website. Just go to " Find A Judge" and search by name, or by location and discipline to find a judge.

Any state record requires two officials to certify. One of these must be a judge rated in the discipline. For more details see SCM Chapter 3.

The USPA Open National Record is for records set in U.S. airspace that contains foreign jumpers. The U.S. National record requires that all jumpers be U.S. citizens for permanent residents.

Sporting Licenses are separate from USPA licenses (A, B, C, D) and are issued by the National Aeronautic Association (NAA) , on behalf of the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI). They are required for participation in international competition or any international record (world or continental). Please see the NAA’s website for more information. You may use the following guide during your application process. FAI Sporting License Application/Renewal Procedure Guide

Your First Jump

No official organization rates the safety of skydiving centers. Compiling a list of accidents by skydiving center would simply indicate the busiest, most active centers. Drop zones that abide by the rules can still be places where individual jumpers have accidents. Feel free to ask the DZ directly about their safety record; they've been asked before. Drop zones that join as USPA Group Members are required to use only USPA-rated instructional personnel and provide standard skydiving equipment.

Recommended attire is comfortable clothing for the weather on the ground. Also, be sure to wear sneakers or shoes without hooks. Students are oftentimes outfitted in jumpsuits which are worn over the clothing. Skydiving equipment is provided by the drop zone.

As with most sports, there are potential risks involved and it is standard to address safety concerns. Upon arrival at a skydiving school, all jumpers must fill out a registration form and sign a liability release.

Around 110 mph or approximately 1,000 feet for every six seconds of freefall.

Surprisingly no. There typically isn’t a “sudden drop” feeling. Falling at such a fast speed, the air acts almost like a cushion, supporting your body as you fly through the air.

No. The rush of air and adrenaline may make you feel that way, but just relax and breathe normally through your nose or mouth.

Approximately five minutes; a good time to take in the breathtaking views and practice maneuvering the parachute.

Prices vary depending on type of first jump and location. Tandem jumps typically range from $200-275. Most drop zones offer video and/or photos for an additional cost. Contact your local drop zone to get rates.

Skydiving centers or “drop zones” are located in nearly every state and many countries. There’s most likely a drop zone near you. USPA Group Member drop zones are skydiving centers who have pledged to follow USPA’s Basic Safety Requirements and use appropriately trained instructors. Find a USPA Group Member drop zone near you.

All participants should be in good health and physical condition and should not be on medication which could affect judgment or performance. Before scheduling a jump, check with the local drop zone’s weight requirements.

Typically, around 10,000 to 13,000 feet above the ground for tandem and AFF jumps, and 3,500 feet for Static-Line/IAD jumps.

For tandems and AFF, approximately 45-60 seconds before deploying your parachute between 3,000 and 5,000 feet above the ground. For Static-Line/IAD, deployment is almost instantaneous during the first five jumps, then freefall gradually increases as the training progresses.

In the US, skydiving schools require a minimum age of 18.

Earning Your License

Based on the training method and the individual’s learning curve, the first solo skydive without an instructor in freefall typically occurs between the fifth and 10th jumps for students learning by tandem or AFF training methods. Static-Line and IAD students jump alone beginning with the first jump and continuing throughout the training. The instructor is in the aircraft to observe the student’s performance then debrief the jump afterward.

Students must demonstrate certain skills in freefall and under canopy to obtain a skydiving license. The minimum number of jumps to obtain an A license is 25.

The cost varies depending on the brand of gear chosen and how new it is. A complete parachute system equipped with an Automatic Activation Device typically ranges from $2,000-6,000. Most drop zones have gear that may be rented either by the jump or for the day.

Membership FAQs

Membership in USPA provides education that keeps you safe, benefits that keep you secure and services to keep you satisfied. As one of a kind in the United States, USPA is a membership services association dedicated to the promotion of safe skydiving and the support of those who enjoy it. Through membership and your support, USPA keeps the skydiver informed. USPA establishes minimum standards and recommends procedures for safe skydiving. USPA promotes unity within the skydiving community and represents the interests of skydivers at local, state and federal levels of government.

An Annual Individual Membership is a 12-month membership that includes:

  • USPA Membership Card
  • online digital membership credentials via Merit
  • receiving USPA’s publication – Parachutist
    • members residing in the US and Canada will receive hard copies
    • all others will receive an electronic version
  • receiving the monthly USPA Update – an e-newsletter covering the latest news
  • eligibility to earn licenses, ratings and awards offered by USPA
  • participate in our triennial elections
  • coverage through our 3rd party liability insurance

Join USPA here!

A Lifetime Membership is valid for life. Benefits include:

  • All the benefits of an annual membership
  • online digital membership credentials via Merit
  • Special recognition in Parachutist (name and picture of new lifetime members published – if provided)
  • A special engraved lifetime membership card
  • No additional fees to maintain your membership; however, other fees may apply such as fees for additional ratings and rating renewals.

USPA also offers Temporary Membership. Temporary membership includes:

  • Coverage for 3 months through our 3rd party liability insurance
  • online digital membership credentials via Merit
  • Purchases can only be made online
  • Temporary members are not eligible to
    • purchase or renewal of ratings
    • participate in any elections
    • receive Parachutist magazine

If you are joining USPA for the first time, create a new online account, then apply for membership.

Call: (540) 604-9740 Download Application: USPA Membership Application Fax: (540) 604-9741 Online: Join/Renew Email: membership@uspa.org Mail: 5401 Southpoint Centre Drive, Fredericksburg, VA 22407

VISA, MasterCard, Discover, AMEX, U.S. check or money order accepted. Please do not send cash!

With normal processing it takes approximately 2-3 weeks to process and receive your membership card in the mail. Online orders are in real time and you can get a digital copy of your card in your profile at uspa.org/me. If you want a physical plastic membership card, you can update your preferences in the membership tab of your profile, and it takes 5-7 days to receive your membership card in the mail.

  1. For an additional $20, your membership can be processed within 24-48 hours, $30 within 2 hours or less. Provide an e-mail address to receive a free confirmation until you receive your membership card within 2-3 weeks.
  2. Another option is to check with the drop zone where you plan to jump to see if they will renew your membership and forward the information and payment to headquarters. Membership processing varies among drop zones, so be sure to research your options thoroughly.
  3. Online renewal is instant and in real time. Drop Zones can confirm your currency immediately after your renewal payment has been processed online.

You should receive your magazine between the 1st and the 15th of each month. A new member should receive the first issue within 45 days after the new membership is processed in the system.

Parachutist magazine is a standard benefit for members residing in the U.S. and Canada, and is mailed through a publisher's periodical class. For deliveries within the United States, members can upgrade the delivery service of the magazine to the first class delivery service for an extra fee. This service should make the delivery time more consistent each month. The airmail delivery service is available for deliveries outside of the United States for an extra fee. This service will make the delivery considerably faster and the delivery time should be more consistent each month.

USPA has three options for displaying your credentials:

Learn more here...

Third-party liability insurance comes with membership through the Standard Benefits Program. Members are eligible to purchase other types of insurance through the Optional Benefits Program and/or the Affinity Benefit Program. Insurance types vary and subject to change. You will find the most current list of insurance programs in the benefits section on this site.

At no cost, you may order another Membership card:

Call: (540) 604-9740 Fax: (540) 604-9741 Email: membership@uspa.org Mail: 5401 Southpoint Centre Drive, Fredericksburg, VA 22407 Online: My Profile – Log in to view and print your credentials.

Online: Log In to your account to view and change your address under the “My Account” tab. Email: membership@uspa.org Fax: (540) 604-9741 Mail: 5401 Southpoint Centre Drive, Fredericksburg, VA 22407 Call: (540) 604-9740

Online: Log In to your account to view and change your address in the “Edit My Profile Information” section. Email: membership@uspa.org Fax: (540) 604-9741 Mail: 5401 Southpoint Centre Drive, Fredericksburg, VA 22407 Call: (540) 604-9740

Use our online rating renewal system by having the required activities verified online by the appropriate official at uspa.org/verify. You can see your progress towards renewal in the credentials tab of your profile. Or, download the USPA Membership and Rating Renewal Application, acquire the appropriate signature(s) and send with payment via:

Fax: (540) 604-9741 Email: membership@uspa.org Mail: 5401 Southpoint Centre Drive, Fredericksburg, VA 22407

VISA, MasterCard, Discover, AMEX, U.S. check or money order accepted. Please do not send cash! Do not provide your credit card information by email. Instead call with your payment details.

We do not release personal information about our members. If time permits, we can forward your contact information to a person you are looking for, with your written permission to do so. As another option, you can place a classified ad in Parachutist magazine to try and have the person contact you.

A complete listing of the USPA Board members with all of the contact information appears in the front of your Parachutist magazine each month, or you can go to USPA Board Members for the listing.

You can contact USPA’s Membership Services Center at (540) 604-9740 or email membership@uspa.org.

USPA      5401 Southpoint Centre Blvd., Fredericksburg, VA, 22407     (540) 604-9740    M-F 9am-5pm Eastern    (540) 604-9741     uspa@uspa.org

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