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What I learned in my first 100 AFF-I jumps.

 


GLIDEANGLE  (D 30292)

Feb 2, 2011, 4:26 PM
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What I learned in my first 100 AFF-I jumps. Can't Post

It seems like yesterday that our chief instructor asked me “So when are you going to become an AFF instructor?” Thus began the adventure of earning my rating and taking students into the sky. I want to talk about the things I learned after earning my rating. Some of these things I already “knew” but gained a new clarity and urgency. Many of these things may seem obvious… but I am a slow learner and often need obvious things driven into my thick skull.

If any new or aspiring AFF-I finds value in these lessons I learned… I have accomplished my goal in writing this. If any experienced AFF-Is get a chuckle out of this… even better!

Every jump is like a box of chocolates… you never know what you are going to get!

Any AFF jump can go completely to hell at any point. Students can be doing really well in the top and middle of the freefall, but become completely spastic fools at pull time.

What you get on the ground, you will get in the air. The mistakes students make during the dirt dive, you will see in the air. Dirt diving to perfection and beyond is important.

AFF spotting needs to account for L-O-N-G student set-up and exit. The spot can be fine when you check it… and be crap by the time the student moseys to the door, gets set up, counts and goes.

Stay close on release dives. Staying close makes everything easier… and far less nerve wracking for you. Flying six inches high is better than six inches low.

When dirt diving flips… make sure the student knows to wait for your signal to begin. Students doing a series of flips who don’t wait for you before each one, can get REALLY low, REALLY fast.

Estimating student fall rate for release jumps is CRITICAL. It is essential that an AFF-I learn to predict and accommodate student fall rates. Few things are as scary as a student getting high or low and the AFF-I having trouble getting there. Use all the tools at your disposal: your jumpsuit (I have three: fast, medium, slow), the student jumpsuit, weights on you, and possibly (the controversial) weights on the student.

On Caravan/Otter/PAC exits, the reserve side can salvage many bad exits by aggressively turning the piece 180 degrees counterclockwise on the hill. This is very easy and very powerful. A strong leg turn will flatten out most high main side instructors.

On Cat A&B (Level 1&2) the reserve side instructor should expect the student to go head down at pull time. Having a grip on the arm gripper and being ready to keep the student’s left shoulder up can make pull time much less exciting.

Don’t accept the student dropping the chin to reach the BOC PC during dirt dives. Dropping the chin leads to going head down at pull time.

Boring AFF jumps are the goal… exciting ones can be WAY too exciting.

Main side needs to stay until the d-bag lifts off. On this one I was smart enough to learn from a really scary video rather than having to do it myself. In the video the student pulled but didn’t release the PC… and the main side left when the PC came out of the BOC. The reserve side AFF-I had to deal with this… from the “wrong” side.

Start re-currency ground training with EPs at the training harness. I have found this to be the best diagnostic to help me assess how much re-currency training the jumper will need. In addition, if the jumper discovers that they don’t know the most essential stuff (EPs)… it is usually very easy to get them to agree to a long re-currency session on the ground.

Re-currency jumps with strangers are very unpredictable. Just because someone claims hundreds of jumps years ago, doesn’t mean that they can maintain stability in freefall today. Once again, I got lucky enough to learn this from a video shot at my DZ.

Spinning students can slide horizontally with great speed. Stay close!

An ugly spin stop early is WAY better than waiting for a “clean” approach and letting the spin speed up and “helicopter”.

Just because you have a radio, doesn’t mean you have to say anything.

No matter how busy the schedule, never be afraid to say “This student isn’t ready to jump” or “This weather is unacceptable.”

Hold students to high standards when advancing to release jumps…you may regret doing otherwise!

Polarized sunglasses and LCD altimeter displays don’t play well together!

On busy days, keep an eye on your partner. Sometimes you will note that your partner is dehydrated or hungry before they notice. Taking a break is good for everyone.

On hot, busy summer days, HYDRATE, HYDRATE, HYDRATE.

During your own landing… stay focused on getting to the ground safely. Keep your mind in the present moment… not the freefall behind you, or the next student waiting in the hangar. It is no fun to be an injured AFF-I lying in the landing area whimpering, as the student walks past after her great landing.

The AFF-I rating is nothing more than a “license to learn”!

Many thanks to all of the AFF-Is and students that I have had the privilege of jumping with. I have learned so much from each of you. You have been tolerant of my many FNG errors. I hope to keep learning on every jump.


JSE  (D 28998)

Feb 2, 2011, 4:48 PM
Post #2 of 21 (2606 views)
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Re: [GLIDEANGLE] What I learned in my first 100 AFF-I jumps. [In reply to] Can't Post

Great post. It's a good time of year for a lot of us to refresh ourselves on many of these important points.


popsjumper  (D 999999999)

Feb 2, 2011, 4:53 PM
Post #3 of 21 (2596 views)
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Re: [GLIDEANGLE] What I learned in my first 100 AFF-I jumps. [In reply to] Can't Post

In reply to:
Main side needs to stay until the d-bag lifts off. On this one I was smart enough to learn from a really scary video rather than having to do it myself. In the video the student pulled but didn’t release the PC… and the main side left when the PC came out of the BOC. The reserve side AFF-I had to deal with this… from the “wrong” side.

Good stuff!
But I would say, "Main side needs to stay until the PC leaves the students hand".
Main side staying in place is one of the major causes of PC in tow because of the larger burble the PC sees.
If you've never had to pull a bag out of the container because the PC wasn't doing it, you will sooner or later if the main side stays too long.


Premier DSE  (D 29060)

Feb 2, 2011, 4:53 PM
Post #4 of 21 (2595 views)
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Re: [GLIDEANGLE] What I learned in my first 100 AFF-I jumps. [In reply to] Can't Post

Terrific post, and spot on!


hcsvader  (E 2952)

Feb 2, 2011, 10:17 PM
Post #5 of 21 (2500 views)
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Re: [GLIDEANGLE] What I learned in my first 100 AFF-I jumps. [In reply to] Can't Post

Quote:
• On Caravan/Otter/PAC exits, the reserve side can salvage many bad exits by aggressively turning the piece 180 degrees counterclockwise on the hill. This is very easy and very powerful. A strong leg turn will flatten out most high main side instructors.

Not an AFF-I but that is an interesting piece of information that I suppose could be used when doing linked exits in FS jumps.


lowpull  (D 18385)

Feb 3, 2011, 4:21 AM
Post #6 of 21 (2451 views)
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Re: [hcsvader] What I learned in my first 100 AFF-I jumps. [In reply to] Can't Post

I you ever start a post, conversation, or thought :"I am not an AFF-I,But ..." then please don't chime in. I am not being dis-missive, nor trying to belittle you,or your opinion, or input.
If you have to qualify a statement as what you are NOT, so that you are already admitting that you are probably not possessing the skill, experience, or knowledge to participate in the conversation, please, do something that a wise man(MadDog) once told a candidate he was helping get a tandem rating.

"if you don't know the answer to the question I am asking, and I promise I do, probably an excellent chance to shut up and listen."
(Candidate:) 'But, But, I was just going to'
MadDog: "Look Stupid?" "Go ahead, you know how to do that without having to paying me to see you demonstrate your being dumb" end quote. I di love watching him teach people to teach!

All I am saying is, learn from what we DON'T know, and there is TONS we will happily admit we haven"t learned yet. And let, allow, hell, expect you to help us figure out we havent a clue about.
Yet!
I am sure it was someone that lived a life of comfortable, quiet, self taught inner confidence in their acceptance of their not-yet-learned yet growing ability and skill set, that came up with the addage, "you will learn a whole lot faster, and look a lot less niave doing it, if you take you mouth out of gear, and try using your ears. No one has ever showed their lack of knowledge with their ears wide open and running, instead of their cock-holster flapping in the breeze,
Sorry, I have been waiting 5 years since I got home from Iraq to use that one in anywhere half as perfect of a situation as this one.

Once I figured out what a 'cock-holster' finally was.

And, sorry if I come off a little brash, I am doing my Jeff Colley impersination
Kinda mortifying when I heard a 9 year old use it one day and I asked him if he would take $2 to explalin what that meant, since I was convinced he had to be saying the wrong word. and he wasn't.. He knew a cuss word I hadn't heard of, and it was a good one.

Look, all I am trying to say is, this is one of the only forums where U can come and give advice, and someone will listen because you say "PackingJarret said I was right, and I must be pretty sharp, and keep trying to tell people what I know, and I am going to make a kick-ass Instructor one day!

Dude...

I once got a LONG message from some kid in New York or Jersey that "I admit I am not an I, but, I know what I am talking about because my dzo lets me lurk alot of tandems, but,you would give the passengers a better jump for their money if I would just learn to: fill in the blank.
Oh He told me allright, and he wrong, and for the right reasons, and only a couple were dangerous, but,
I am sure the kid meant well, and I am sure he was sharp as a tack for his 90 jumps. when he last jumped, 2 years ago,

but, he was not going to tell an I/E anything relevant about teaching people to be Tandem I's, and when I wrote him back, and explained this, he went off on the whole "cant tell anyone anything that they don't already know better, since I was not going to admit my way could be wrong!
I will happily take advice and criticism freely, and say thank you, and happliy write it down for future reference, if they are in the position to allow me to learn from them, and they know what they are talking about.
I am sorry to go off on a tangent, and I sincerely hope someday that you are able to make me a better skydiver, Instructor, and Instructor Examinier, cause, God knows, we as a whole need all whatever input and advice I can glean from everywhere.

I have hurt one tandem student, one time. I freely admit it, it was something I should have been able to anticipate, and I PROMISE, I have nevevr gotten on an airplane and not heard the sound it made when I broke his ankle. Badly. It won't happem again, and there is not one day since happenendmI wish I could take it back, or take his place happily and carry the burden of his injury, nor deny I was the sole person that deserves to be made to remember his pain.
Again, sorry for the tangent, and I hope you read my entire thought here.

ralph
USPA I/E


popsjumper  (D 999999999)

Feb 3, 2011, 5:53 AM
Post #7 of 21 (2420 views)
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Re: [lowpull] What I learned in my first 100 AFF-I jumps. [In reply to] Can't Post

Wow! That's a lot of wind expended just to say "listen, don't talk".


lowpull  (D 18385)

Feb 3, 2011, 7:11 AM
Post #8 of 21 (2383 views)
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Re: [popsjumper] What I learned in my first 100 AFF-I jumps. [In reply to] Can't Post

I have tried the short, sarcastic, pithy remark. It is lost on most young parachutists, sometimes you have to weedeat with a 12 foot bush-hog to make a point.


Reginald  (D 28162)

Feb 3, 2011, 8:31 AM
Post #9 of 21 (2366 views)
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Re: [GLIDEANGLE] What I learned in my first 100 AFF-I jumps. [In reply to] Can't Post

In reply to:
AFF spotting needs to account for L-O-N-G student set-up and exit. The spot can be fine when you check it… and be crap by the time the student moseys to the door, gets set up, counts and goes.

Yes, just learn the "go around" signal and give it to the pilot on every other jump. Trust it they will love me...um, I mean YOU for it. ;-)


In reply to:
Main side needs to stay until the d-bag lifts off. On this one I was smart enough to learn from a really scary video rather than having to do it myself. In the video the student pulled but didn’t release the PC… and the main side left when the PC came out of the BOC. The reserve side AFF-I had to deal with this… from the “wrong” side.

Hmm, I wonder who you are taking about here. Wink

In reply to:
Re-currency jumps with strangers are very unpredictable. Just because someone claims hundreds of jumps years ago, doesn’t mean that they can maintain stability in freefall today. Once again, I got lucky enough to learn this from a video shot at my DZ.

And they all think they don't need any training they "had a D license" 10 years ago.

In reply to:
An ugly spin stop early is WAY better than waiting for a “clean” approach and letting the spin speed up and “helicopter”.

Always!

In reply to:

Just because you have a radio, doesn’t mean you have to say anything.

Or that they will listen anyway...

In reply to:
During your own landing… stay focused on getting to the ground safely. Keep your mind in the present moment… not the freefall behind you, or the next student waiting in the hangar. It is no fun to be an injured AFF-I lying in the landing area whimpering, as the student walks past after her great landing.

Wink No additional comment needed


crazydiver  (D 28022)

Feb 3, 2011, 10:15 AM
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Re: [lowpull] What I learned in my first 100 AFF-I jumps. [In reply to] Can't Post

Dude, the guy wasn't even talking about something to be done on an AFF jump. He was saying it would be helpful to use on RW jumps. Chill the F out. Geez.

I agree with you on literally everything in your post, except he wasn't talking about AFF jumps. He could have said that without his preface of not being an AFF student and it would have meant the same thing.


hcsvader  (E 2952)

Feb 3, 2011, 7:52 PM
Post #11 of 21 (2225 views)
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Re: [lowpull] What I learned in my first 100 AFF-I jumps. [In reply to] Can't Post

Hahaha wow dude, just fucking wow.

I made a comment to say that I learned something from this thread that I may be able to use in other area's of the sport.

Maybe I will come back after I do my AFF-I / Tandom course next month then my comment will be valid Sly

In the mean time I will just edit my comment to read.

Quote
• On Caravan/Otter/PAC exits, the reserve side can salvage many bad exits by aggressively turning the piece 180 degrees counterclockwise on the hill. This is very easy and very powerful. A strong leg turn will flatten out most high main side instructors.

I like doing 4 way and that is an interesting piece of information that I suppose could be used when doing linked exits in FS jumps.


(This post was edited by hcsvader on Feb 3, 2011, 7:55 PM)


matthewcline  (D 21585)

Feb 4, 2011, 8:08 AM
Post #12 of 21 (2119 views)
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Re: [hcsvader] What I learned in my first 100 AFF-I jumps. [In reply to] Can't Post

This move was taught to me by an AFF I/E who had a deep understanding of 4-way RW and competed in the same field.

I would also like to add to the OP's observations ,CLEAR eye protection for the student and AFF-I's (and Coaches), you can convey a lot of info with your eyes, but not if you can't see them.

Matt


agentsmith413  (B 36115)

Feb 7, 2011, 7:14 PM
Post #13 of 21 (1914 views)
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Re: [hcsvader] What I learned in my first 100 AFF-I jumps. [In reply to] Can't Post

In reply to:
Hahaha wow dude, just fucking wow.

I made a comment to say that I learned something from this thread that I may be able to use in other area's of the sport.

Maybe I will come back after I do my AFF-I / Tandom course next month then my comment will be valid Sly

In the mean time I will just edit my comment to read.

Quote
• On Caravan/Otter/PAC exits, the reserve side can salvage many bad exits by aggressively turning the piece 180 degrees counterclockwise on the hill. This is very easy and very powerful. A strong leg turn will flatten out most high main side instructors.

I like doing 4 way and that is an interesting piece of information that I suppose could be used when doing linked exits in FS jumps.

I'm not an AFF-i but...TongueSly

No seriously though. I agree with you. The response to your post wasn't needed. Had the person responding to that actually read your entire post, they might not have had to respond like that.

This isn't to say that what they said was wrong but it absolutely did NOT apply to your post.

So to the poster who responded with a long winded remark that didn't even apply to the post. Make sure you actually read the ENTIRE post before responding. Next time you may not have to waste time typing up an essay again.SmileWink


Gary73  (D 21341)

Feb 8, 2011, 7:46 AM
Post #14 of 21 (1855 views)
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Re: [GLIDEANGLE] What I learned in my first 100 AFF-I jumps. [In reply to] Can't Post

Some good advice, but I'd have to disagree with a couple of items:

Main side needs to stay until the d-bag lifts off.
Definitely not. Main-side needs to get out as soon as the PC is released. Every student PCIT I've seen in 11 years of AFF-ing happened when the main-side stayed too long. (Maybe that's why we teach them to get out in the AFF-I course!)

What you get on the ground, you will get in the air.
Don't count on it. Do a thorough ground prep, but always remember the box-of-chocolates rule. Always. The worst performances I've ever seen were from students who did fine on the ground.

Here's some more advice:
Drill into students that pull time is pull time. No exceptions. Ever. For anything.


davelepka  (D 21448)

Feb 8, 2011, 9:10 AM
Post #15 of 21 (1838 views)
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Re: [Gary73] What I learned in my first 100 AFF-I jumps. [In reply to] Can't Post

Quote:
What you get on the ground, you will get in the air.
Don't count on it. Do a thorough ground prep, but always remember the box-of-chocolates rule. Always. The worst performances I've ever seen were from students who did fine on the ground.

Just a guess here, but I think he meant the inverse of what you're saying.

It's not suggesting to relax and expect perfection if that's what you get in the dirt dive, it's suggesting that if you take a student up who is only 75% on the dirt dive, the best you'll ever get from them is 75%, more likely something less than that.

Maybe it could be more correctly worded as, "The best you can get from your student on the ground is the best you'll likely get in the air. If they can't perform there, they'll never be able to perform upstairs".


GLIDEANGLE  (D 30292)

Feb 8, 2011, 11:23 AM
Post #16 of 21 (1824 views)
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Re: [davelepka] What I learned in my first 100 AFF-I jumps. [In reply to] Can't Post

In reply to:
Quote:
What you get on the ground, you will get in the air.
Don't count on it. Do a thorough ground prep, but always remember the box-of-chocolates rule. Always. The worst performances I've ever seen were from students who did fine on the ground.

Just a guess here, but I think he meant the inverse of what you're saying.

It's not suggesting to relax and expect perfection if that's what you get in the dirt dive, it's suggesting that if you take a student up who is only 75% on the dirt dive, the best you'll ever get from them is 75%, more likely something less than that.

Maybe it could be more correctly worded as, "The best you can get from your student on the ground is the best you'll likely get in the air. If they can't perform there, they'll never be able to perform upstairs".

Dave you got it perfectly... Thank you! Your re-statement is exactly what I meant.


steveorino  (D 26782)

Feb 8, 2011, 1:09 PM
Post #17 of 21 (1782 views)
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Re: [Gary73] What I learned in my first 100 AFF-I jumps. [In reply to] Can't Post

In reply to:

What you get on the ground, you will get in the air.
Don't count on it. Do a thorough ground prep, but always remember the box-of-chocolates rule. Always. The worst performances I've ever seen were from students who did fine on the ground.
.

I was going to post the same thing, but it has been my experience that some people get their panties in a wad if you disagree with them.

I might add one of the guys that was so ADD that a very experienced AFFI, Brad Smith, just rolled his eyes at me when we "dirt dived" the exit in the plane (Cessna) on jump run. Turned out flawless .... yeah, chocolates !


Gary73  (D 21341)

Feb 8, 2011, 1:42 PM
Post #18 of 21 (1770 views)
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Re: [GLIDEANGLE] What I learned in my first 100 AFF-I jumps. [In reply to] Can't Post

That's better, but I'm still worried about the "dirt dive to perfection and beyond" idea. Even perfection is unattainable, so I hope the "and beyond" was hyperbole. What I'd say is "Dirt dive until you can honestly say that you have a reasonable expectation that the student will have a safe, productive skydive, including a really good chance of passing,". Not as catchy a statement, but more realistic.

Oh, here's another bit of advice:
Don't hose yourself or the folks exiting after you by insisting on a perfect door position." I haven't noticed any difference in exit quality between perfect and good-enough door positions. Just note it as something to review during the debrief and get on with the skydive.


popsjumper  (D 999999999)

Feb 8, 2011, 7:59 PM
Post #19 of 21 (1695 views)
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Re: [Gary73] What I learned in my first 100 AFF-I jumps. [In reply to] Can't Post

In reply to:
Main-side needs to get out as soon as the PC is released.
Thanks for iterating.

In reply to:
always remember the box-of-chocolates rule.
AMEN, Brother!

In reply to:
The worst performances I've ever seen were from students who did fine on the ground.
...and some great ones from the dirt-dive challenged.
(see box-of-chocolates rule.)


Having your partner pull a Level 1 student up underneath him so that he can reach across and give you a high-five after the exit is NOT a good idea.
Shocked

Corollary:
High-fives across a student's back is never a good idea.


(This post was edited by popsjumper on Feb 8, 2011, 8:02 PM)


steveorino  (D 26782)

Feb 8, 2011, 9:26 PM
Post #20 of 21 (1673 views)
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Re: [popsjumper] What I learned in my first 100 AFF-I jumps. [In reply to] Can't Post

In reply to:
Corollary:
High-fives across a student's back is never a good idea.

Agreed! Which is why Stooby & I just stick our tongues out at each other ... Steve Machine!


rehmwa  (D 12816)

Feb 11, 2011, 12:36 PM
Post #21 of 21 (1561 views)
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Re: [GLIDEANGLE] What I learned in my first 100 AFF-I jumps. [In reply to] Can't Post

I'm at the same point and this last season was a blast.

1 - Main side go away. We use ripcords, so for me, when the rip cord clears completely. If the student has a hold of the pilot chute on my rig, well, that's a pretty impressive catch and I'm likely still there to help. Wink

2 - Agree, you can predict so much of what will happen in the air by the ground performance. Use it.

3 - "perfection on the ground". I'm not a fan of this. You can "overtrain" a student to the point where their predicted performance will degrade - an anal instructor has to know when to say "good enough - practical learning is best for the student"

4 - Either instructor can save a folding exit with a good rotation (and it does work for 4-way too). Not just the reserve side.

5 - Eye contact and communication is a great indicator of a good student's ability to be comfortable in the element - if I get good eyes, and response to signals and a mediocre completion of all the required moves (still pass), I'm actually more comfy (going to the next jump) than I am with that student that's all tunnel vision and gets the jump perfect. I emphasize a deliberate "check" and ask for a response pretty much always on the early dives - just to see if they see and understand.

Every jump is as follows:

1 - Communication and relax - eye contact, altitude, etc
2 - junk down (not chest, not hips, not belly, get your junk down) and;
3 - a bunch of things we ask them to do (PRCPs, turns, etc)

We focus on 3 so much, that we can forget that if 1 and 2 happen, 3 is so much easier.


(This post was edited by rehmwa on Feb 11, 2011, 12:38 PM)



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