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You are Here: Parachute History.com >> Skydiving >> USPA >> The Birth of the US Licensing System

The Birth of the US Licensing System

It only takes one pissed off jumper to get something done in parachuting. The jumper was Joe Crane.

On July 1-4, 1933, there were air races, sanctioned by NAA in Los Angeles. Crane had placed first and second in this air race during the previous four years. He had planned on attending. Crane received his invitation to participate 5 days AFTER the registration deadline.

Since he could not participate in LA, he decided to attend an air race in Chicago. The competing air race was not sanctioned by NAA. NAA said the Chicago show was a wildcat affair. NAA suspended the FAI sporting licenses of all of the participants of the Chicago air races.

At the time, NAA issued pilots licenses, but did not issue any license for parachutists.

Later that same year, the National Balloon Races were held in Chicago over Labor Day. Crane sent in his entry form for this NAA sanctioned air race. His application was denied stating that he was suspended for attending the earlier Chicago air races.

This outraged Crane. How could his license be suspended when no license was issued????

He managed to participate in the air races after he wrote a letter to NAA claiming NAA had no jurisdiction over parachutists since they did not issue licenses. NAA asked Crane to resubmit his application after the NPJA sided with Crane. The application was accepted and he participated at the 1933 National Balloon Races.

In 1933 NAA began to issue annual sporting licenses to parachutists. This helped create respect for parachutists.
(Geronimo thinks this sporting license is the same as today's - just pay a fee.)

It was not until 1947 that NPJA became an affiliate organization of NAA. The affiliation was important because NPJA became the official representative of US jumpers to the FAI.

The FAI began issuing licenses to US jumpers in 1947.

The FAI licenses had three levels: A, B and C. Each was issued based on the number of jumps.

  • A - 10 jumps
  • B - 20 jumps
  • C - 100 jumps

Joe Crane was issued license C-1 for his many contributions. At the time, it was the most prestigious award in US parachuting.

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