Solo skydive jump school could be the first step if you are thinking about going Army Airborne. Of course the Army Airborne is significantly different than civilian skydiving. But we can show you what it is like to jump out of an airplane. This is a great way to see if you enjoy the experience without any commitment. Some of the solo skydive jump school training will carry over to Airborne school. Once you get your civilian skydiving license you can usually find a place to jump no matter where you are stationed in the US.
Earning Your Solo Skydive Jump School License
Want to get your skydiving license? This is an overview of what it takes. It takes a minimum of 25 jumps to get your skydiving license. These 25 jumps cover everything from stable freefall to front/back flips. You’ll also learn to control your canopy and land in the target area. Once you have your license you can skydive at almost every skydiving center across the US, and even the world. It also opens up some advanced training options such as BASE jumping, Wingsuit flying, Demonstration jumps, or becoming a Skydiving Instructor. Each of these have their own additional requirements such as minimum jump numbers. Earning your skydiving license can start you on a path to these other activities. And it all starts with the solo skydive jump school.
What to expect during Solo Skydive Jump School
This is the first jump in earning your skydiving license. The first jump ground school takes about 4-5 hours and then you go up for your solo skydive after that. When you arrive at Skydive Springfield you will be welcomed by our team. We have created a very friendly and social environment. People are able to learn more and ask questions when they feel comfortable. The jump school is a mix of classroom time, hands on activities, and interaction with your instructor and other jumpers. This helps to keep everyone engaged mentally. The solo skydive jump school starts with equipment orientation.
We’ll start the solo skydive jump school by showing you the equipment and how it works. The primary (or main) parachute is deployed using the main pilotchute handle. Most modern parachutes no longer have a “ripcord”. The opening of the main parachute occurs in three stages: activation, deployment, and inflation. Once the main parachute is open there is a cutaway handle in case the main parachute malfunctions. A reserve handle is then used to deploy the reserve parachute. A nice piece of technology is the Automatic Activation Device (AAD) that is designed to automatically deploy the reserve parachute if someone is unconscious. Both the main and reserve parachutes are controlled using steering toggles. As you get in and out of the airplane is it important to protect your handles so they don’t accidentally get caught.
There are many different types of aircraft used for skydiving. During the solo skydive jump school we’ll cover the procedures specific to our airplane. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) does require everyone to wear seat belts during taxi, takeoff and landing. All of our pilots are Commercial Pilots licensed by the FAA. One of the most important aspects of the skydive is exiting the aircraft.
Exiting the Aircraft
A good exit position helps get the skydive started right. Your instructor well demonstrate the exit procedures and have each student practice at the airplane. During the actual skydive your instructor will give you one last gear check before getting you into the exit position. Once you get your skydiving license you can exit however you want. There are actually a lot of fun different exits you can do. The last step of the exit procedure is to get a good freefall “arch” position.
Solo Skydive Jump School Arch Position
The Arch position gives you a stable freefall position for a clean parachute deployment. The arch position starts with extending your arms and legs and then pushing your hips forward. Your instructor will demonstrate the arch position and then everyone will practice together. We will go over this several times to make sure everyone gets it. All freefall maneuvers start with a good arch and build from there. When you are ready for freefall turns you’ll start with a good arch and then slightly adjust your arm position. Front flips and backflips start with a good arch and end with a good arch. After a stable exit and freefall it’s time to deploy the parachute.
Main Parachute Deployment
Deploying the parachute is the most important part of skydiving. During the solo skydive jump school we’ll show you how the parachute is deployed. On the initial training jumps your instructor deploys your parachute as you leave the airplane. As you get more jumps you’ll start deploying your own parachute. We’ll teach you how to recognize any parachute issue on opening. Some minor parachute issues can be corrected. Other malfunctions will require you to cutaway the main parachute and open the reserve. There are specific things we look for to determine if the parachute is safe to land. You’ll be taught all of these during the ground school. Once you determine the parachute is safe to land you’ll start working on canopy skills.
Canopy Piloting Skills
It takes skill and practice to fly the canopy back to the target landing area. The solo skydive jump school will teach you about the affects of wind on your canopy. The goal is to fly over target points on the ground at specific altitudes. Based on the wind direction you may need to steer more into or away from the wind. Below 1,000ft all skydivers fly the same basic landing patterns. This way we all know what each other are doing. This reduces the chances of a canopy collision. There are three sections of a landing pattern: downwind, base and final. On final approach you will flare the canopy about 10ft-12ft off the ground for landing. And just in case your landing isn’t perfect we prepare for a parachute landing fall.
Parachute Landing Fall
The parachute landing fall (PLF) is the safest way to land a parachute. This is the same technique the Army uses when jumping round parachutes. A good PFL will help protect your wrists and ankles from injury. During the solo skydive jump school we will practice the PLF on a mat. The PFL is like a controlled roll that converts vertical energy into a horizontal roll on the ground. And now you have fully landed on the ground. It takes a few jumps before you have consistent standup landings. There are some landing hazards that you need to know how to avoid.
Really anything on the ground could be considered a hazard if you land on it. Powerlines, cars, buildings, trees or any other object could be a hazard. There are several techniques to avoid landing on such hazards. We will review those techniques during the solo skydive jump school. Each hazard has its own unique challenges and we train for those. For parachute issues during deployment there are specific emergency procedures to follow.
Equipment Emergency Procedures
On rare occasions main parachutes do have issues. As part of the solo skydive jump school you will be trained to evaluate a parachute and determine if it is safe to land. If the parachute is not safe to land you will be able to cutaway the main parachute and deploy the reserve. We spend a lot of time on the ground practicing these emergency procedures. We ensure that all students are comfortable with the emergency procedures before jumping. To make the training as realistic as possible we have a suspended training harness.
Solo Skydive Jump School Training Harness
The training harness gives all students the opportunity to practice emergency procedures on the ground. While in the harness students are given different scenarios to respond to. We have several photos that show different types of parachute issues. Some of the issues can be fixed using the toggles. Others require students to use the emergency procedures to cutaway the main parachute and deploy the reserve. We practice this until each student is comfortable with the emergency procedures. The training harness is the last stage of the solo skydive jump school before we gear up and get in the airplane. One last thing we need to check is the weather.
Checking the Weather
Skydiving is very dependent on the weather. There are several weather conditions that can prevent jumping. The main limitations have to do with clouds and wind speed. According the FAA skydivers are not allowed to jump through clouds. And higher winds take additional skill to navigate. Winds have to be 14mph or less for student jumps. If this is your first jump winds need to less than 10mph. Even with 5 jumps the wind needs to be less than 10mph. Students are also not allowed to jump at night. Now that we have checked the weather it’s time to gear up and go skydiving! With one jump done you need 24 more jumps to get your license. Over is an overview of the remaining 24 jumps required for you skydiving license.
Solo Skydive Jump School Progression
It takes 25 jumps to get you skydiving license. By the end of training you’ll be able to check the weather, plan a group freefall, and land the canopy back at the airport. There are 8 categories in the full solo skydive jump school for getting your license. Each of the 25 jumps is in one of the categories. Your first jump is part of Category A and focuses on exiting safely and landing back at the airport.
Category A – Getting stable – Jumps 1-2
After the solo skydive ground school you will be ready for the first jump. Jumps 1 and 2 are really just about getting used to the experience. You will feel the wind speed from the airplane and freefall. After practicing the arch position on the ground you will get to try it in the air. After the parachute opens you can see what it’s like to control the parachute. You will start to figure out how to tell where you are at over the ground. During the second jump you’ll be able to work on improving the arch position and gaining better control over your canopy. On jump 3 we start fine tuning the arch position.
Category B – Arch position – Jumps 3-5
On jumps 3-5 you focus more on your legs and arms while arching. In a good arch position you push your hips forward but your legs and arms also need to be symmetrical. After the parachute opens you will fly the landing pattern with less assistance from the instructor on radio. By your fifth jump you’ll be doing the landing pattern and flare mostly by yourself. You’ll also have a better understanding of the equipment and be able to do your own gear checks. In jumps 6-8 you start working on freefall control.
Category C – Freefall Control and Landing Practice – Jumps 6-8
Time to start on basic freefall skills in jumps 6-8. During these jumps you will work on getting a stable arch position in freefall without assistance. You will also learn to signal to other jumpers that you are about to deploy your parachute. You will fly the landing pattern and flare without assistance. After you land by yourself a couple times you will be “off radio”. This means you no longer need assistance from an instructor on the radio. In jumps 9-12 you will work on turns in freefall.
Category D – Freefall turns – Jumps 9-12
Time to turn and face your instructor. Once you have a stable freefall we can start working on turns. We start with small 90° turns and work up to full 360° turns left and right. Once you can control your heading you’ll be able to turn towards your instructor. This is the start of “group” skills. When you start jumping with groups you’ll need to turn to see other jumpers. Freefall speed is about 120mph. This varies for each jumper. During these jumps you all learn to control your speed. This way you stay with other jumps if they are slightly faster or slower than you in freefall. Under canopy you learn new ways to control the parachute. You can turn the canopy using rear risers without using your toggles. In jumps 13-15 you start working on more advanced freefall maneuvers.
Category E – Freefall Flips and Barrel Rolls – Jumps 13-15
Frontflips, backflips, and barrel rolls in freefall. Now that you can get stable in freefall it’s time to get unstable. When you do a frontflip, backflip, or barrel roll you lose the stable arch position. These acrobatics are a lot of fun in the air. We also watch to see how long it takes you to get stable again. You will also gain better control of your canopy. Focusing on different flare speeds and positions will give you better landings. You might start to have more standup landings at this point. In jumps 16-17 we work on jumper separation.
Category F – Freefall Separation Tracking – Jumps 16-17
It’s important to get separation from other jumpers before deploying your parachute. This way there is less chance of hitting another jumper during deployment. Tracking is a specific body position that generates forward speed. You can use this forward speed to get away from other jumpers in the air. It can be a little more difficult to stay stable in a tracking position. And you have to slow down the forward speed before deploying your parachute. Under canopy you’ll work on achieving maximum glide for your canopy. This will give you the great distance across the ground. We’ll also cover braked turns in case you have to turn lower to the ground. Time to connect, called “docking”,with other jumpers in the air.
Category G – Forward Movement and Docking – Jumps 18-21
Docking is moving forward in the air to connect with other people. This does require some finesse because it is easy to overshoot or undershoot the distance. If you move forward too fast there is a risk of hitting or flying past another jumper. Coming up short is less of a problem but it takes more time to restart the forward movement. Under canopy you’ll work on collision avoidance and reverse turns. You’ll start to get a better idea of how a canopy dives when it turns. You’ll also get getting more accurate when aiming for a specific landing target. Category H is the final series of jumps for your skydiving license.
Category H – Swooping and Graduation Jump – Jumps 22-25
Swooping in freefall means docking from a farther distance. Your instructor will be about 100ft away and you will need to move forward quickly to close the distance. You will need to “swoop” to them and then dock. From a greater distance you pickup more speed. It’s important to control that speed so you don’t overshoot your instructor and fly past them. The final jump is the graduation check dive. During this jump you have to perform a right 360° turn, left 360° turn and back within 18 seconds. You then need to track away and deploy your parachute at the correct altitude. After landing back at the airport you will have earned your skydiving license. You are now one of the few people who has earned a skydiving license.
The Reward is Worth It
It does take some time and patience to earn your skydiving license. But it is worth it. You can now show up and jump at almost any skydiving center in the US. You can pack your own parachute, participate in group jumps, deal with any issues and land back at the target area. In addition to all of that you have joined a close community of people. You will naturally fit in with skydivers no matter where you are. If you don’t want to jump solo the first time you can do a tandem jump.
Tandem Skydive Options
Tandem skydiving is less stressful because you are attached to a tandem instructor. The training is much shorter because you don’t need to know how to do everything yourself. The tandem instructor is there to keep you stable in freefall, deploy the parachute, deal with any issues and land back at the target area. This is a great way to experience skydiving without going through the solo skydive jump school. And it’s still just as much fun.