Skydiving training methods
(Static Line, "IAD", "AFF", Tandem)
You are not required to do a Tandem jump for your first jump.
(However, some skydiving centers may require that you do a Tandem jump
before doing a solo jump (AFF, IAD, or Static Line) so that you are
more used to the sensations of freefall and will perform better on
your first solo jump.)
Tandem jumps have, for the most part, become carnival rides, with
little if any instruction.
(Even very good Tandem instructors are sometimes limited in how much instruction
they can give you due to time constraints placed on them by a schedule created
to run as many Tandem students through the system as possible.)
Tandem students are often treated as second-class students
, often not even called
"students" but instead called "passengers" like they are cargo, and are often not
afforded even the most basic treatment as students, like not being given skydiving
instruction, being told to assume a passive role as a "rider", and not being given
normal student equipment.
Not all skydiving centers and clubs offer instruction in all of the training
methods, and this could be for any number of reasons. The availability of
instructors and equipment, (or the unwillingness of instructors to teach in
a less profitable instructional method
), the type of aircraft, the profit margin on a
particular method of instruction
, etc. None of the instructional methods
are substantially safer or better than any of the others. It depends mostly
on how they are applied and how well they suit a particular student.
Do not believe any statement that indicates that one method of instruction
is obsolete or inferior!
Pick a method of instruction that fits you and your resources, not a method
that you have been talked into (or out of), by your friends or by the skydiving center.
Keep in mind that if you do a Tandem jump, subsequent jumps will cost nearly as much
as the first one. Doing a Static Line or AFF jump will allow you to more easily
afford to jump again, probably the same day!
Skydiving training will include any or all of the following, depending
on the training method, the instructor, the aircraft, and optional charges:
- Equipment and aircraft procedures
- Exiting the aircraft
- Freefall manuvers
- Pulling the ripcord
- Emergency procedures
- Steering the parachute
- Landing the parachute
- Debrief and logbook
- Viewing video of the jump
Training method descriptions
- The Static Line (or IAD which stands for Instructor Assisted
Deployment, a minor variation of this method) consists of a first jump
course or Ground School. This course teaches you all about
your parachute including how to steer it, land it, and what to do in the
rare event of some type of problem with it. You will exit at about 3500
feet and the parachute will be deployed as you fall away from the airplane.
You will be given parachute steering advice from an instructor on the
ground with a radio. You will be debriefed by your instructor and your
performance will be critiqued and recorded in a logbook, which you must
bring for your subsequent jumps. You will also be given a first jump
certificate. This method is the least instructor and aircraft intensive,
therefore subsequent jumps are the least expensive of all the instructional
- The AFF method (AFF stands for Accelerated Free Fall, accelerated means
accelerated learning) consists of a first jump course or Ground School.
This course teaches you all about your parachute including how to steer it,
land it, and what to do in the rare event of some type of problem with it.
You will exit anywhere from 10,000 to 14,000 feet (depending on the aircraft
available), and will be accompanied by one or two instructors that
will be holding on to you. During the freefall they will be helping you
learn to relax, (and on subsequent jumps to manuver your body and
learn to skydive by yourself.) You will freefall down to about 5000 feet
and will pull your ripcord, at which point your instructor(s) will
let go of you to continue your jump by yourself. At this point your jump
will become just like a Static Line/IAD jump. You will be given parachute
steering advice from an instructor on the ground with a radio. You will
be debriefed by your instructor and your performance will be critiqued and
recorded in a logbook, which you must bring for your subsequent jumps. You
will also be given a first jump certificate. This method is instructor
intensive and might involve larger aircraft, therefore it is usually the most
expensive method for most of the jumps. However, the learning can indeed
be "accelerated" because of the amount of freefall time and the presense
of an instructor in freefall.
- The Tandem method is where you and your instructor are both
attached to the same parachute system and complete the entire jump
together. Because the instructor is there to handle any problems that
might occur with the parachute, you need not be trained very much in
this area, (which is the bulk of the training in the Static Line and AFF
first jump course). This means that Tandem training can be done in a
short time. You will exit anywhere from 10,000 to 14,000 feet (depending
on the aircraft available) and pull the ripcord at about 6000 feet.
The amount of training that you actually receive for a Tandem skydive
can vary widely among different skydiving operations, and even among
different instructors. Two entirely different philosophies exist on
Tandem jump training:
You may want to ask instructors and skydiving operations you contact which
of these attitudes they have!
- Some skydiving operations and Tandem instructors believe that few
Tandem students will ever make another jump, and therefore train them
very little, providing essentially a passive skydive "ride". They are
probably given a first jump certificate but not a logbook.
- Other operations and instructors treat Tandem students like students
in any other training method, and teach them to skydive, doing everything
that a Static Line or AFF student does. They are given a first jump
certificate and a logbook which is filled out by the instructor,
and then debriefed in detail on the jump by the instructor. (This type
of training is getting more difficult to find, but is still available
at smaller operations or skydiving "clubs".)
- Hybrid Tandem/AFF training is often available for those Tandem
students who have been trained to perform a number of manuvers
during several Tandem jumps, and have successfully performed these
manuvers. They can then enter the AFF progression at an advanced
position after having completed a Ground School.