By JT - UK Parachuting
This method has evolved over the last ~30 years from its military origins into a successful method for training sport parachutists. The student gets 6 hours of ground training and is then taken to an altitude of about 3000 feet for the jump. The jump itself consists of a simple “poised” exit from the strut of a small single engine Cessna aircraft, or the side door of a larger aircraft. As the student falls away from the plane, the main canopy is deployed by a “static line” attached to the aircraft. The student will experience about two to three seconds of falling as the parachute opens.
Subsequent S/L jumps require about 15 minutes of preparation. After 2 good static line jumps, the student will be trained to pull their ripcord for themselves. The student then does 3 more static line jumps where they demonstrate this ability by pulling a dummy ripcord as they leave the plane (the static line is still initiating the deployment). The student is then cleared to do their first actual free fall.
The first freefall is a “clear & pull”, where the student initiates the pull sequence immediately upon leaving the aircraft. Next is a 10 second delay jump. Subsequent jumps go to progressively higher altitudes with longer delays. After 25 free falls, and meeting certain other basic requirements, the student receives their A license and is cleared off student status.
The AFF program was instituted in 1982 as an “accelerated” learning process as compared to the traditional static line progression. The AFF program will give you a true taste of modern sport skydiving. The ground training is a bit more extensive than S/L (6 hours minimum) because the student will be doing a 50 second freefall (that’s right!) on his/her very first jump. The student will exit the aircraft at 13,000 feet along with two AFF instructors who will assist the student during freefall. The instructors maintain grips on the student from the moment they leave the aircraft until opening, assisting the student as necessary to fall stable, perform practice ripcord pulls, monitor altitude, etc. The student then pulls his/her own ripcord at about 5000 ft.
The official BPA AFF program is a 8 level program. Levels 1, 2, & 3 require two AFF instructors to accompany the student. These dives concentrate on teaching basic safety skills such as altitude awareness, body position, stability during freefall and during the pull sequence, and most importantly- successful parachute deployment. On level 3, the instructors will release the student in freefall for the first time, to fly completely on their own.
Levels 4, 5, 6, & 7 require only one freefall JM (less ££) and teach the student air skills such as turns, forward movement and docking on other people, moving forward, “superman” exits from the plane, etc.
Each AFF level is designed to take one jump, and requires about 45 minutes of training. After successfully performing the objectives of each level, the student moves on to the next level.
After graduating Level 7, the student enters a consolidation program of 10 skydives with learning objectives on each one, some time throughout the consolidation process the student will do a lev 8 which will be from 5,000ft to simulate a aircraft emergency. Once all 18 jumps are achieved the student will be awarded a BPA A licence.