Getting your A licence
There are two ways to learn to skydive, through RAPS (Ramm Air Progression Course) or AFF (Accelerated Freefall).
RAPS is 6 hours of training on the ground followed by a static line decent from about 3500 feet. This means that though you are jumping on your own, your parachute will deploy automatically after a few seconds. After your parachute has deployed, someone will be talking to you through a radio and helping you get back on the ground safely. The rest of the RAPS course is a gradual progression in about 20 jumps until you earn your A licence, by which time you will be jumping on your own at about 12000 feet.
AFF has a similar amount of training on the ground, but it is followed by a first skydive from 12000 feet with two instructors holding on to you and then pulling your parachute for you. The course is made up of 8 levels, during which the instructors will gradually give you more freedom in the air. At the end of those 8 levels, you still have 10 consolidation jumps (solo jumps) to do before you get your A licence.
Both progression systems have their pros and cons, but RAPS being the cheapest of the two, it is the course friendlier to a student budget. Whilst you are a RAPS student, each jump will cost you £40.
Something good to keep in mind is that once you have started your RAPS training, it must be refreshed at least once every 3 months, and you must jump at least once every 6 months... otherwise beware the full retrain!
See BPA website for more details: http://www.bpa.org.uk/your-first-jump/
After you get your A licence, the world is your oyster! Jumps are cheaper and you may jump by yourself at any parachute centre in the world… However, it gets so lonely on your own in the sky! This is why every A licence holder is urged to get his FS1 (Formation Skydive 1), that way you will learn to move safely relative to other people in freefall in a belly to earth position, and you will be able to try your hand at 4-way amongst others.
See BPA website for more details: http://www.bpa.org.uk/training-and-progression/what-next-after-bpa-a-lic...
Free-flying is the term given to any skydiving that is not in the stable belly to earth position. Freeflyers can dock onto each other in a similar way Flat flyers can they are just vertical instead of horizontal! Generally teams of two plus a camera flyer jump and show a choreographed sequence usually involving head-down flying, stand and sit flying.
As with Formation Skydiving, to Freefly with other people you need to gain your FF1 qualification. To do this you first need to get your FS1, and then do the FF1 course through which you will learn to fly in a controlled sitting position, fly in a controlled stand position, control your fall rate in both a sit and stand position, and control your horizontal movement in a sit and stand position.