Summary

Get Started on the Adventure of a Lifetime!

For sheer excitement and high-speed fun, no sport comes close to skydiving. Fortunately, this life-changing adrenaline sport is not as extreme or intimidating as it may seem. Just about anyone 18 years of age or older can take to the skies after some comprehensive safety instruction.

Each year, approximately 500,000 people in the U.S. spread their wings and try skydiving for the first time. These first-time jump students and experienced skydivers make about 3.2 million jumps annually!

You may choose among several methods of training, depending on the school, your requirements and personal preferences. Skydiving schools can answer specific questions about each program they offer.

More details on USPA's student program are also available in the Skydiver's Information Manual.

Once you've reviewed the different ways to make your first skydive, it's time to choose a school!

Accelerated Freefall

This Video
For more information on the AFF program click here.

Overview
Commonly abbreviated "AFF."

This training discipline is where certified instructors accompany the student in freefall holding onto the student's harness at first while the student demonstrates certain skills. It can be compared to learning to ride a bike with training wheels.

Training
Since the student is wearing his own parachute, he must be trained to handle emergency procedures as well as landing procedures. AFF training usually consists of a several hour ground course, and the first jump can often be accomplished the same day. The USPA Online Ground School, while not a course that can be used as complete training, provides valuable information for first-time jumpers and is a great refresher for all students. It includes videos and information about skydiving equipment, canopy flight and landing, emergency procedures and exit and freefall.

How Does It Work?
Student exits the aircraft with two USPA AFF Instructors and freefall together for 30 to 50 seconds, depending on jump altitude, typically 10,000 to 13,000 feet. Instructors maintain grip on the student's harness to provide in-air instruction and assist with stability if necessary.

The student opens his own parachute by 4,000 feet and pilots it to the landing area.

Cost
AFF first-jump training and the jump requires more support from the staff than the other methods and is priced accordingly.

Options/Other
Many schools offer video of the freefall and landing.

IAD/Static-Line

This Video
This video is typical of what a drop zone may be able to provide. Most drop zones let you choose the music and other options. Some training videos do not include music or other special effects.

This sample static line video of Jamie Scarbro was filmed by Nick Swindle at Skydive Walterboro, South Carolina.

Overview
IAD stands for "Instructor-Assisted Deployment" and is a method of training where the instructor initiates deployment of the student's parachute when the student jumps from the plane.

Static line is a line of cable or webbing, one end of which is fastened to the parachute, the other to some part of the aircraft, used to activate and deploy or partially deploy the parachute as the student falls away from the aircraft. The instructor does not jump with the student in either of these methods.

Training
IAD and static-line training and the first jump can often be accomplished the same day. The USPA Online Ground School, while not a course that can be used as complete training, provides valuable information for first-time jumpers and is a great refresher for all students. Although the freefall portion is specific to the AFF training method, it also includes videos and sections on skydiving equipment, canopy flight and landing, emergency procedures relevant to all training methods.

How Does It Work?
Assisted during climbout by the USPA IAD or Static-Line Instructor, the student exits the aircraft solo with the parachute deploying immediately.

Exit and opening occur at 3,500 feet, then the student pilots the parachute to the landing area.

Cost
Around $100 less than AFF and about the same as tandem.

Options/Other
Some schools offer video of the exit and landing.

Tandem Freefall

This Video
This excerpt of a tandem video is typical of what a drop zone may be able to provide. Most drop zones let you choose the music and other options.

This sample tandem video was filmed by Nick Kaminski at Skydive Orange in Virginia.

Overview
Most drop zones use tandem jumps to introduce students into the solo training programs. The instructor is the pilot in command of the shared parachute so the training time is considerably less than the methods where the student is wearing his own parachute.

Training
Generally less than 30 minutes.

How Does It Work?
Both the student and the instructor are attached to the same parachute system.

They freefall together for 30 to 50 seconds, depending on jump altitude, typically 10,000 to 13,000 feet and descend together under a single large parachute with dual controls.

Cost
Around $100 less than AFF.

Options/Other
Most schools offer video of the freefall and landing.

Compare
  Accelerated Freefall (AFF) Instructor-Assisted Deployment (IAD) or Static-Line Tandem Freefall
Summary

Quickest method to independent skydiving.

Least expensive entry into the sport.

Quickest way to experience skydiving.

Training


Several hours of ground school.


Several hours of ground school.


Generally less than 30 minutes.

Freefall
 

Jump with 2 instructors who hold onto student in freefall.

Freefall for 4,000-10,000 feet (30-60 seconds).

Student is expected to deploy their own parachute.

First freefall on around the 6th jump.

Jump with 1 instructor. The instructor and student share the same parachute system.

Freefall for 4,000-10,000 feet (30-60 seconds).

Student may be allowed to deploy the pair's parachute but is not required to.

Parachute (Canopy)

Student is alone under canopy.

Student is alone under canopy.

Student and instructor descend together under a single large parachute.

Student may be allowed to control canopy but is not required to.

Cost

Availability

Most schools offer AFF training.

Some schools offer IAD and/or static-line training, especially schools with smaller airplanes.

Most schools offer tandem training.