I know zero about tandems, never done one. I did S/L training in 1968 and have zero AFF experience as well. To me, it just seemed unnecessary to do a tandem along with AFF, but I am open to more informed opinions. Bill's requirement does not say you have to do the tandem before your AFF jumps, just within 30 days of starting training. Puzzling.
When I did S/L, self sufficiency was drilled into us from day one. Perry Stevens, my instructor, told us: "We will train you, but once you are out that door, your life depends on you and you alone."
I think that was a good thing. There was never any thought about anyone else helping you out during a jump that was going badly. Yes, several of my training jumps did go badly, especially trying to learn stable freefall unassisted. We students called it "freeflail". I mastered the flat spin long before I learned the stable frog position. AFF is definitely a better way to teach freefall, but it wasn't available at my DZ.
(This post was edited by 377 on Sep 9, 2008, 2:47 PM)