Jun 21, 2004, 1:23 AM
Post #1 of 9
S/L, IAD Rating Worth It?
I just wanted to ask everyone's advice about this. I am currently a USPA Coach and am debating whether or not it would be worth it to attempt to earn a S/L or IAD Instructional rating. When I say worth it I mean are there enough DZ's around that perform S/L or IAD jumps as a student training method in order to keep a potential rating current. I do not have enough freefall time (nor the air skills) necessary to pass the AFF course, and have no desire to become a tandem instructor or fly a camera. I really enjoy working with students as a USPA Coach, and it seems like taking the S/L or IAD course would improve my abilities when working with students, and it would give me the general priviledges of a USPA Insructor, such as adminstering the A license check dive, giving written exams, and supervising other coaches. I am concerned however because my home DZ does not offer either method, and they seem to be few and far between in Florida. Does anyone have any advice on what I should do? Should I take a S/L or IAD course or just work on improving my freefall time and air skills toward a future AFF rating course? Any help would be appreciated.
OK, so you love to teach. The bottom line is, our sport needs people like you - people who are passionate about giving back a portion of the joy that they have received from skydiving.
I am no authority on the percentage of DZs that that use SL/IAD vs. AFF (or one of its spin-offs), but I would venture to say that AFF is the most common instructional method nowadays, with IAD second, and SL third. Of course, Tandem progression factors in there somewhere, but that eventually leads to AFF in most places.
If I were in your shoes, I wouldn't train for, pay for, and earn a rating that I knew I would not be able to keep current. Instead I would maximize the privileges of my USPA Coach rating, teaching as much a possible inside those parameters. Meanwhile, I would be building my free fall time & jump numbers, shadowing real AFF skydives, learning to launch CAT C1 & Cat D2 AFF exits from different aircraft, learn the Cat C1 & Cat D2 dive flows, work on recovery from going low & diving straight down to reach a jumper directly underneath, side sliding in slot, and the other vital AFF skills.
With 300 jumps like that, by the time you meet the prereqs you will be extremely well prepared to smoke through the AFFCC and be allowed to exercise the full privileges of a USPA Instructor.
I've had S/L and IAD ratings for about 6 years now, a tandem rating for a little over 4 years, and just got my AFF this weekend. I think the S/L and IAD ratings helped me in the AFF course because they allowed me to work with real students (as opposed to those cleared to self-jumpmaster). Ground preps and supervision of my "student" in the AFF course were a breeze because I got really accustomed to doing those things via my other ratings.
Also, there is something about teaching someone to skydive from jump #1 that is really rewarding regardless of method, and I'd advise anyone with interest and the ability to teach to give it a shot. My (S/L) FJC instructor and 2 of my JM's were at the DZ Saturday evening when I earned my AFF rating (something none of them has ever gotten) and you should have seen how proud they were...like fathers of a valedictorian on graduation day. It was fun to watch them strutting around with those big beaming grins because I feel the same way about my students.
Anyhow, I'd suggest going for it if you can find somewhere to actually do it. Neither are expensive ratings to earn, especially since you're already a coach, so the only big question mark is whether you can use the rating often enough to be a safe and proficient instructor. It wouldn't be a problem in my region (Northwest) because every single DZ up here offers at least one of the two options, but I can see how it might be considerably more difficult in someplace like southern California, Arizona, or Florida.
That said, this will likely be the last year I am able to keep my S/L rating current without travelling away from my home DZ. Since we've added AFF progression and have a few IAD rating holders, we can put modern gear to better use than our old SOS, round reserve S/L rigs. We're trying now to find a new home for those rigs, and once they're gone, it won't take long for myself and the other instructors at my DZ to lose our S/L ratings to uncurrency. Oh well, we should be able to maintain our IAD ratings by transitioning students between methods and offering it as a less expensive alternative to AFF. As long as I have that option to complement AFF and tandem, I should be able to tailor my instruction to meet each of my student's individual needs.
Slotperfect gave you some great advice. If you are going to be at a DZ that is predominately AFF, then utilize those Coach skills to teach as many blocks of the generic portion of the FJC as possible. Spend as much time and jumps as possible preparing for AFF. Perhaps you have someone at your DZ who is an AFF Evaluator or CD that you could practice the Cat C & D dives with one weekend day a month until you're able to go to the AFFCC.
Should you find yourself in need of an SL/IAD rating, you can always get that later. Getting the SL/IAD rating, but not being able to maintain a certain level of currency and proficiency is somewhat akin to a skydiver who maintains the minimal level of currency.
My advice is to get a rating that you are going to use on a regular basis and not get one just to have it.
I am concerned however because my home DZ does not offer either method, and they seem to be few and far between in Florida
Remember when you first got your coach rating, and your first couple of students you worked with? I don't know about you, but I certainly have Improved in my abilities to work with students since becoming a USPA coach and SL-I. Think about this - There are a lot of additional concerns involved in operations dealing with an IAD or SL - Things can get very messy very quickly assuming the Instructor does not keep on top of things. Trust me, if You get one of these ratings, you really need to do everything you can to keep it current and keep your technique under your fingers.
Dave's reply is right on the money... if you have s/l and/or iad at your dz, by all means get your ratings.
As a DZO I have a real problem with staff... never enuf and I blame it on the fact that I quit doing SL at my dz a number of years ago. With Static Line, I could introduce people to real hands on instruction of REAL students at 100 jumps with a SL JM rating. Those people got very good at working with real students and wanted AFF and Tandem ratings as additional ways to work with students. It kept the growth of the DZ going.
If you do not have places nearby that you can and will use the ratings, don't waste your time on what will be simply a merit badge.
I find working with students more challenging and rewarding (regardless of the venue) than any other skydiving I do.
Go for it! You'll be glad you did. And, yes, it will make acheiving the other ratings an easier task.
I have had my S/L I for a couple years now and have the good fortune to be able to maintain it through mostly molitary club students. When those are not available, I'll assist in ground iinstruction for the AFF on general course work or with tandem progression students. When the time comes available for the AFF-I course, I have little doubt that it will be much easier with a couple hundred Tandem/SL/Coaching jumps with students and non-licenced jumpers under my belt. As Slotperf has pointed out tho, maintaining if there isn't already a prograam in place at your DZ causes an issue. Might suggest starting one if the SL-I course is already available. THe nice thing about the SL/IAD programs is that they are a good deal for those of us who startted jumping on tight budgets and can allow for more current progression for those under toight budget constraints.
If your dz teaches SL, by all means, get that rating and start using it. It's a great way to learn how to work with students while building time to your AFF rating. I've made a lot of money and a lot of skydivers with a S/L rating. It's still a good way to go. Enjoy!