United States Parachute Association > Experienced Skydivers > SIM > Skydive School > FJC

Skydive School


Additional References

  • Use the Skydive School First Jump Course as a visual supplement to the information presented in outline form here

This first category of the ISP includes the first-jump course, presented according to your training discipline.

A USPA Coach may teach the solo general section, which contains topics and procedures common to all solo first jumpers in the AFF, IAD, or static-line programs. A USPA Instructor in that student’s training discipline is required to teach any sections unique to the student’s training method.

Depending on school policy, tandem skydivers may train for only the minimum information required to make a tandem jump safely, or they may train to meet the Category A advancement criteria. Only a USPA Tandem Instructor may conduct skydiving training in the tandem method, but a USPA Coach may assist.

All ISP categories include recommended minimum deployment altitudes and the number of skydives it takes on the average to complete that category of training (column on right). They vary within a category, according to your training discipline.

Following each category introduction is a category overview called “Category at a Glance.” It lists the advancement criteria you should meet before progressing to the next category of training. The school should provide you a USPA A-License Card and begin checking off training sessions and advancement criteria early in the training program.

At the end of each category, the supervising USPA Instructor conducts an oral quiz based on topics from the training outline and the recommended readings (“book stuff”) listed with the “Category at a Glance.”

Recommended plans (dive flows) for freefall and under canopy follow each outline. Notes for the supervising USPA Instructor are also found there.

Naturally, Category A includes the longest training outline, because there is a lot you must learn prior to making a first skydive. To improve retention, the school introduces only what you might need to know to make a first jump safely. Other important information can be presented as it becomes relevant and as you make a firmer commitment to learning more about the sport.


  • one jump


  • two jumps


  • AFF: 4,500 feet
  • IAD and static line: 3,500 feet
  • Tandem: 5,500 feet


CAT A Category at a Glance


4-2 Student Skill and Knowledge Sets

  • canopy control
  • landing approach
  • landing principles
  • exit
  • stable fall
  • deployment
  • aircraft emergencies
solo students—
  • equipment emergencies
  • landing emergencies
  • relaxing in the skydiving environment
  • heading awareness
  • parachute deployment
  • more on the landing pattern
  • airport orientation
  • protecting handles
  • equipment emergency review
  • unassisted freefall with heading maintenance
  • hover control
  • solo deployment
  • landing patterns for higher winds
  • downwind landings
  • wing loading
  • accidental opening review
  • turbulence
  • landing off
  • obstacle recognition
  • the FAA rigger
  • the closed parachute system
  • solo, unassisted exit (AFF students)
  • freefall turns
  • freefall speeds and times review
  • back riser control
  • building landing review
  • AAD (owner’s manual)
  • pre-jump equipment check
  • introduction to three-ring release operation
  • cloud clearance and visibility
  • observe jump run
  • door (unpoised) exit
  • recovering stability and awareness
  • aerobatics
  • stalls
  • the canopy’s “sweet spot”
  • two canopies deployed (review)
  • high-wind landings
  • reserve static line
  • open parachute orientation
  • parachute packing and supervision
  • wind limits
  • aircraft briefing
  • aircraft emergency procedures
  • selecting the opening point
  • introduction to tracking
  • two clear and pulls (former AFF students)
  • braked turns, approaches, and landings
  • extending the glide
  • acting as jumpmaster or jump leader
  • power-line landing review
  • packing with assistance
  • checking others’ equipment
  • procedures following inactivity
  • winds aloft and the exit point
  • separating groups during exit
  • group exits
  • floater position
  • forward and backward movement
  • adjusting fall rate
  • start and stop
  • docking
  • maximum-performance canopy turns
  • collision avoidance and response review
  • tree landing review
  • equipment maintenance inspection
  • weather for skydivers
  • diver exit
  • swooping
  • breakoff
  • front riser control
  • water landing review
  • owner maintenance of gear
  • aircraft radio requirements
  • FAA notification requirements for jumping
  • FAA approvals for jump planes


4-3 An Introduction

A. Recommendation

USPA recommends that skydivers complete training in the Integrated Student Program (ISP), an effective means of preparing a student for the USPA A license.

B. What is the ISP?

  1. USPA developed the ISP as a comprehensive training outline that meets the USPA Basic Safety Requirements (BSRs) for student training in all training methods.
    1. Some schools have developed equivalent programs that train the student to meet all the qualifications of the USPA A license.
    2. A prospective student should be able to ask a school to compare its program against this industry standard program.
  2. USPA recognizes the following training methods, or disciplines:
    1. USPA Accelerated Freefall (AFF or harness hold), where the student exits with two instructors who hold the student by the parachute harness for guidance and observation.
    2. Instructor-Assisted Deployment (IAD) and Static Line, the same method using different equipment during the initial jumps
      1. pilot chute deployed by the instructor as the student exits (instructor-assisted deployment)
      2. deployment via a static attachment to the aircraft that separates once the parachute deploys (static line)
    3. Tandem, where the student’s harness is attached to the front of the instructor’s harness as part of a specially designed and built parachute system for tandem skydiving
    4. vertical wind tunnel training, where a student receives instruction and practices basic freefall control and maneuvering
  3. As ISP students progress, those training in one method demonstrate an equivalent level of knowledge and skill as ISP students trained in other methods.

C. Choosing a school

  1. Many regions are served by more than one skydiving center, so shop around.
  2. Ask questions (personal observation is even better) about the types of training offered, the type of equipment used, staff qualifications, etc.
  3. Skydiving schools are often listed in the local yellow pages under "parachute" or "skydiving."
  4. USPA maintains a list of current Group Member drop zones on the USPA website, uspa.org.

D. What to expect

  1. Registration
    1. Upon arrival at the jump center, register with the skydiving school.
    2. All jumpers will be required to fill out a registration form which will usually ask for name, address, age, height, weight, occupation and the name, address, phone number, and relationship of someone to contact in case of emergency.
  2. Liability release
    1. Each participant will also be required to agree to and sign a liability release.
    2. This release will verify that the person understands that there is risk involved in skydiving and that the participant freely agrees to accept that risk.
    3. The legal release will usually contain a contract or covenant by which the participant agrees not to sue the skydiving school or anyone else if the participant is injured.
  3. All participants in skydiving must meet the USPA BSRs for medical fitness.
    1. A person should be in good health and physical condition to skydive and should not be on medication; however, some conditions can be properly managed if the instructor knows about them.
    2. An FAA flight physical or a doctor’s statement of fitness for skydiving may be required in some cases.
    3. The instructor also needs to know about any recent donations of blood.
    4. People who participate in SCUBA?diving should not fly for at least 24 hours afterward.
    5. Refer to faa.gov/pilots/medical/ for more information on medical fitness for flight.
      USPA Statement of Medical Fitness "I represent and warrant that I have no known physical or mental infirmities that would impair my ability to participate in skydiving, or if I do have any such infirmities, that they have been or are being successfully treated so that they do not represent any foreseeable risk while skydiving."
      "I also represent and warrant that I am not taking any medications or substances, prescription, or otherwise, that would impair my ability to participate in skydiving."
  4. All participants in skydiving must meet the BSRs for age.
  5. Upon completion of ground school and before the first jump, students should be required to pass written, oral, and practical tests.

E. Student equipment

  1. Students are provided with additional safety devices not usually found on equipment used by non-students.
  2. Special requirements for student parachute systems are listed in the BSRs.
    1. From the start, a student should be taught to be self-reliant and to respond quickly to emergency situations.
    2. Safety devices and features should be designed as emergency overrides or backups only, in the event that the student does not properly perform emergency procedures.
    3. Students should never use these features as a substitute for proper training and supervision
    4. Emergency back-ups give confidence to the student and peace of mind to the instructor.
  3. Student equipment should be well maintained.
  4. Standardization
    1. Changes in type of equipment and procedures should be avoided or minimized whenever possible during student training.
    2. When changes are made, adequate transition training must be provided in compliance with the BSRs.
    3. Foresight should be used to minimize the need to change emergency procedures as a student progresses.
  5. Canopies used for students should be large, docile, and appropriate for the student’s weight.

F. Training priorities

  1. The most important skill a skydiver must develop is the ability to cope with and respond to emergency situations.
  2. Development of these skills should start with the first jump rather than at a point where supervision of jumping activities is reduced.
  3. Initial training, even if the student intends to make only one jump, should be designed to establish a foundation for the continuing growth and development of skills.