Accelerated Free Fall (AFF)
The most advanced method of learning and obtaining a USPA Skydiving License which is accepted at 1000’s of drop zones world-wide. Want to become a licensed skydiver and be able to skydive all over the world? This is where you start.
You’re standing in the open door of an airplane, 14,500 feet above the Earth, the wind blasting your body…two skydiving instructors are holding onto you, both ready to launch. You look up into the sky and you begin your exit count, all three of you moving as one, “UP!…DOWN!…ARCH!!” and suddenly, you’re free falling…
Your Accelerated Free Fall Skydive has begun!
Full Speed Ahead!
Want to take it to the highest level of intensity, fun…and awesomeness??? Accelerated Freefall or AFF, is the most advanced (and fastest,) method of skydiving instruction, designed to work with and for almost anyone – hey, if George Bush Sr. can go through the program in his eighties, so can you!
AFF is an intense introduction to the sport, and easily the most popular method of solo skydiving instruction. Glidersports Skydiving is one of the very few locations in the local Midwest that offer AFF as it was designed to be taught– that is, you wear your own parachute system, and two instructors accompany you into freefall, giving you signals, and actively teaching you during the skydive. Most other drop zones will require you to make a tandem skydive (or several) first. While we do suggest a tandem skydive as that introductory jump, we certainly won’t require it allowing you the decision of how you would like to proceed. Every skydive in your AFF progression takes place from 14,500 feet or more, so you’re getting the full-on, true-to-life skydiving experience. The Glidersports Skydiving Accelerated Freefall Program is designed for the beginning skydiving student who is ready to jump in with both feet, so to speak. Time to bring your A-game!
How it Works
We have a variety of ways for a student skydiver to advance toward their A-License, and we highly recommend our AFF Program to those who want to advance quickly. It’s possible to get a huge amount of experience in a very short time, and as some of us will tell you, it’s good to jump as much as possible, as often as possible! Glidersports Skydiving features the true dual-instructor AFF Progression, and we’re proud to say that we’re one of the few Midwestern skydiving operations that currently offers this. We don’t believe in forcing our students into pursuing a method of instruction that they’re not comfortable with or god forbid, isn’t even recognized by the United States Parachute Association or USPA. Beginning with your AFF First Jump Course, you’ll spend the better part of a day learning the basics of free fall and canopy flight, along with concepts that are specific to AFF student jumps:
- The Basic Free Fall Body Position
- Active Communication During Free Fall
- Circle of Awareness – a system of maintaining awareness of the entire situation
- Main Parachute Deployment
The progression to the A-License follows the Integrated Student Program as put forth from the USPA, and is outlined by eight categories of skill and knowledge sets (2 to 3 jumps per category,). Each jump counts toward the 25 skydives required for the USPA A-License, and that includes any tandem jumps done prior to signing up for the AFF Program. All AFF jumps begins with a briefing from a qualified AFF Instructor, which includes a review of the previous jump (if any,) and targeted learning objectives for the current category jump. Every jump is followed by a thorough debriefing with your instructor, to discuss your skydive in detail, and plan accordingly for your next skydive. This is all documented in your student logbook for future reference. (Basic USPA and A-License info below @ bottom of page)
The AFF First Jump Course
Everything begins with an intensive ground school training, in the Glidersports Skydiving AFF First Jump Course. Like any pilot or aviator, learning how to fly begins with what’s known as “ground school” – it’s what you learn on the ground before you’re allowed to actually go fly. The class begins at 9am on weekends, and you will need your strength. You’ll need to have your wits about you. Skydiving is all about paying attention to what’s happening around you, growing your awareness, and above all, having fun while you’re doing it, and that’s how we teach. Here are some of the basic concepts you’ll learn, along with physical training and various drills for emergency and landing procedures:
- The components of a sport parachute system, and how it functions
- FAA Regulations related to sport parachuting
- The dynamics of body position as it pertains to body flight
- How to calm your mind so that you can perform
- Aircraft safety and emergency procedures
- The concept of the Wind Line
- Exiting the aircraft
- Learning to relax and fly your body
- Thorough training of emergency procedures
- How to safely fly and land a modern ram-air parachute
- How to fly a normal landing approach
- How to (neatly) handle a parachute after landing
At the end of the class, you’ll be given an oral quiz to make sure you’ve absorbed what you’ve learned – don’t worry, it’s not all that difficult! Once we’ve made sure you’re physically and mentally prepared to make your first skydive, your AFF instructor(s) will manifest the jump for you – this basically means he or she registers your student jump for the next available plane load of skydivers.
Glidersports Skydiving uses only modern, state-of-the-art equipment to ensure the performance and safety of our skydiving students…and ourselves! (This is aviation, after all.) We will provide your jumpsuit, helmet, goggles, and altimeter. Your instructor(s) will select a student parachute system appropriate to your size, weight, and experience level. Once you’re both ready to go, you’ll board the plane for the ride of your life! Your instructor will hook your seatbelt into your rig, then he’ll secure himself. If you’ve never been aboard a small plane before, you’ll probably be reasonably nervous; don’t worry, that’s a normal feeling when a human being is facing the prospect of leaving the ground! The plane will taxi out for takeoff, and that’s when the pilot will order the door closed. You’ll hear and feel him hit the throttle as the plane lurches aggressively forward, sending you down the runway, and you all take off into the sky! At 1500 feet above the ground, the skydivers’ seat belts come off, and you’ll be able to relax for a few moments. You’ll hear new things, see new things, and smell new things – and if you focus on breathing steady, the nervousness you felt before will just melt away into excitement! Keep your eyes open and pay attention to what’s happening around you, and above all, enjoy yourself!
While You’re Up There…
While the airplane ascends to 14,500 feet, your instructors will go over the skydive with you again, and they will be asking you questions about what you’re supposed to do, along with a few “what ifs” –
“What does hand signal mean?”
“What altitude do we exit?”
“What altitude do you deploy your parachute?”
“What do you do after the parachute opens?”
“What if you look at your altimeter and it stops working?”
Believe it or not, you’ll be able to answer all these questions when it’s your turn to skydive – our instructors have been trained by the best in the nation, and you’re assured to learn everything you need in order to become a heads-up skydiver. Glidersports Skydiving is committed to excellence in education and training for the next generation of skydivers. Come train with us – discover the Glidersports difference!
Just before you reach jump run (with the plane over the target, flying into the wind,) your instructors will give you one last gear check to make sure everything is still good to go, then you’ll wait for the door, and your exit! A red light will come on, and you’ll hear someone call out, “DOOR!” The skydiver nearest the jump door will open it up, and the cabin will fill with a rush of cool air and the scent of turbine exhaust…wonderful stuff! A green light will come on in place of the red, and the other jumpers will start exiting, and you’re moving toward the door and the open sky. One instructor will take position with you from the outside, the other from the inside, with both of them taking grips on your harness and jumpsuit, and you move into position in the door, between the two. This is a typical AFF exit procedure, with the student verifying that the instructors are ready:
- Student calls, “Check in,” to inside instructor, who responds, “OK!”
- Student calls, “Check out,” to outside instructor, who responds, “OK!”
- Student gives the exit command and motions, “Up, Down, ARCH!” and the group launches simultaneously on the last word.
You’re now in free fall, in the first few seconds of what we call the forward throw, which is the little push forward we get from the airplane before we begin falling straight down. You’ll feel a little like you’re floating on a column of air, as your instructors fly on either side of you, adding to your stability. You’ll be checking your altitude every few seconds, and after you’ve gotten a little more stable, you’ll begin a series of practice pulls. Every little task or adjustment to your position will be followed by checking your altitude – we’re building a thing we call altitude awareness, that will become second nature to you as you keep skydiving.
And this is only the beginning…
Your instructors will assign an altitude in which you “lock on” to your altimeter just prior to the wave off and deployment of the main parachute, but they will remain with you until your opening parachute removes you from their grasp. You’ll lock on to your altimeter at or around 6000 feet. The prescribed main deployment altitude for AFF student skydivers is 5500 feet at which point you will wave-off and deploy your main parachute. Within about two seconds of the pull, you’ll feel yourself be pulled back into an upright position with the parachute inflating slowly over your head. You did it! You saved your own life!
The Canopy Flight and Landing
An instructor on the ground will begin speaking to you on the radio, reminding you to release your brakes and perform a controllability check, then turn toward the prescribed playground area. You might have the opportunity to play with the parachute, but every situation is different; depending on the wind conditions and your weight under the parachute, you may have to maintain a heading back to the target in order to make it back. It’s a good idea to identify landmarks on the horizon as marker points for your heading, and airport runways are always identified by their orientation to degrees of a compass. Parachutes are fun to fly, and Glidersports Skydiving has a full range of new, state of the art Student Parachute Systems for the optimal safety and performance of our student skydivers! You’ll most likely fly a normal landing approach, just like an airplane…but unlike airplanes, parachutes only get one shot at it. (We don’t have engines.) A normal approach will usually begin at around 1000 feet, where we turn onto our Downwind Leg. At roughly 500 feet, we turn onto our Base Leg, and then onto Final Approach for landing at 300 feet. (All skydivers are cautioned never to turn aggressively below any of these altitudes, mostly because of the risk of misjudging distance to the ground.) After you’ve landed, you’ll gather up your parachute and head back to the hangar for debriefing. You and your instructors will review what happened on the jump, both positive and negative, so that you can do better on the next skydive, and the next, and the next, and the ones after that, etc. The truth is that skydiving is a never-ending process of learning and having more fun doing it than you ever imagined. Click here for a full categorical description of the Glidersports Skydiving AFF Progression, as well as all pricing and scheduling options!
It’s easier than ever to get started in our sport, and Glidersports Skydiving offers more than any other dropzone in the local Midwest. We know this because we offer EVERY approved USPA method of skydive learning. We are the ONLY drop zone in the state capable and willing to do so. We have the fastest, newest, and safest fleet of performance aircraft, the best skydiving equipment available, and a staff that has been hand-picked for their experience and dedication to their love of skydiving. Our location isn’t bad, either – we’re just over an hour southeast of Kansas City and north of Springfield, within eyesight of Truman Reservoir in historic Clinton, Missouri. We are the cutting edge of local Midwest skydiving, and we’d like to prove it to you!
The USPA, the ISP, and the A-License
The United States Parachute Association, or USPA, serves as a sort of liaison between the FAA and skydivers in the United States. It essentially sets standards in accordance with FAA regulations and aircraft procedures, in order to better establish safe operations for all skydivers in the United States. Every two years, the USPA publishes the Skydiver’s Information Manual or SIM, which you can download for free on USPA’s website, www.uspa.org. The SIM contains yearly-updated safety recommendations, all rules and regulations pertaining to skydiving in the United States, and its most important feature, the Integrated Student Program, or ISP. The ISP includes every detail pertaining to approved methods of skydiving in the United States. If it’s not in the ISP, it isn’t approved.
Quote from the Skydivers Information Manual:
USPA developed the ISP as a comprehensive training outline that meets the USPA Basic Safety Requirements (BSRs) for student training in all training methods.” And here is the USPA’s most basic information regarding the A-License: “Persons holding a USPA A license may jump without supervision, pack their own main parachute, engage in basic group jumps, perform water jumps, and must have –
a. completed 25 jumps.
b. completed all requirements listed on the USPA A-License Proficiency Card.
c. completed five group freefall skydives involving at least two participants.
d. received the signature and official stamp on the USPA A License Proficiency Card or USPA A-License Progression Card (ISP) which validates the A license for a 60-day time limit following the completion of the card.
e. the completed and signed USPA A-License Proficiency Card or USPA A-License Progression Card must be validated within 60-days of completion by sending the card to USPA Headquarters.
f. once validated, USPA will issue a license number that becomes a permanent record of the member.
g. passed the USPA-developed written and oral USPA A-license exams conducted by a current USPA I, I/E, S&TA, or USPA Board member.
FIRST JUMP COURSE
First Jump Course is where you learn all the ins and outs of skydiving preparing you to safely perform a solo skydive. It is required for anyone, 18 years of age or older, wishing to skydive solo. The class typically starts at 9am on a Saturday or Sunday and lasts for 6-8 hours depending on the aptitude of the students.
AFF Category A-C
AFF Categorys A-C are typically dual instructor skydives and the first 3-4 jumps in the AFF progression. Before making an AFF Category A skydive the student must have already taken the FJC and been cleared to perform the actual skydive.
AFF Category D-E
AFF Categorys D-E are typically Single instructor skydives. Category D & E typically take a minimum of 2 skydives each to pass effectively. Tandem progression students crossing over to AFF sometimes fall into this category of skydiving but must have already taken and passed the FJC prior to performing the skydive.