Feb 5, 2013, 11:07 AM
Post #1 of 18
Which DZ for AFF?
Thank you in advance for your help. I'm visiting Florida for a few weeks from out of state and would like to complete my AFF at either Deland or Zephyrhills. Not worried about price difference, and have already done some tunnel time. Neither will ultimately be my home dropzone. I know a lot of it is personal preference, but would anyone be willing to give feedback about which AFF program is superior (simply based on quality of instruction, for example)? Perhaps one has a more developed student program?
Additionally, I am very petite (chicken legs!!) and would be interested to know which dropzone has the widest variety of student/rental gear-- ie: will they have a rig that will fit me? I'm hoping a larger dropzone will have a larger range of sizes.
Is there not a DZ close to where you live? Just curious....
The reason I ask is that there are two local ones near me, and one is smaller but is run by Jim Crouch who is the Director of Safety and Training for the USPA, and he and the other folks at VSC are super nice...so dont judge a DZ by looks alone or by how big they are.
By reputation, both are highly regarded, so I don't think you will find one considered significantly superior to the other, and it might make sense to chose the one that is closest to where you will be staying. (I've only jumped at z-hills when visiting down there, because it is close to where my relatives live). You might want to reveal when (and where!) you will be down there, just in case one of them is having a boogie or some other activity that would interfere with normal operations.
It would also probably help if you would be more specific about your size and shape. I mean, you don't really care if a DZ has a wide variety of rig sizes. But you do care whether they have one that will fit *you*. (But don't expect perfect fits, even us averaged-sized students sometimes were in rigs that would have fit someone a few inches taller).
Personally, I recommend going where ever will be your home. It will make meeting people & making long time friends easier.
But if you want to do it in FL still, either DZ is great. They have both been home to me, and I love both. Personally if I'm coming down for a fun trip though, I'd go Zhills. It has more non-DZ stuff to do and people stick around the bar later. Deland is still fun though, and there's always someone to hang out with.
AFF wise, I didn't go through either program, but know instructors in each. I'd go through either of them myself.
I did mine at DeLand with Supafly skydiving, but we used the same gear as students going thru the DZ or Skydive U.
Now I haven't been to a ton of DZs, so I don't much to compare against, But there were always several students there every day, and I didn't meet any that mentioned having a problem finding suitable gear, or anyone that was waiting around for gear.
What I did like was that anytime we were ready to go up, we never had to wait more than 15-20 minutes for a slot (with the exception of weather holds).
So while I can't say anything + or - for Zhills (other than i plan to get down there soon!) I can tell you I was very happy with my experience at DeLand and enjoyed training with PJ thru the whole process
(This post was edited by phreeloader on Feb 5, 2013, 10:47 PM)
Are you having a vacation or are you ready to learn? Both of the places you have mentioned are fine places to learn, both might be intimidating for a newbe???
One of the other comments was regarding where you are now because Jim is also a great instuctor and there are many benifits staying local. I mention this because personlly I have issues with the get your AFF in two days type of thinking.
DeLand has more student rigs to answer your question, but the student rigs at Z hills are adjustable as well. Most of the time these places have rigs sitting on the wall and this is a non issue...the issue is your size? call ahead... both places can get busy on occasions.
Skydive U at DeLand is highly reccommmended, call ahead,...but with all of these places they are not waiting around for you to show up, many of the wonderfull instructors have other jobs and sometimes the buissness vibe so to speak can put off many at DeLand who are expecting a hold your hand kind of atmosphere. Then again Skydive U at DeLand is probabley responsible for training many of the instuctors everywhere else, Ya I know this might seem to be a ballsy statment using the word "everyone else" but ya have to admit laidlaw did have a big hand in writing the ISP. And more world champion instuctors have worked there, short of Arizona, than anywhere else. To answer your question about developed student programs SDU's AFF / windtunnel program is the most structured, of any I have seen and I have seen the majority of what is out there...THIS IS NOT SAYING that many of the others out there are less than in any way! And yes there are a few out there that are terrible, but yo haven't asked about them...The word we use is fun jumpers V tandem mills...neither Z hills, or DeLand is even remotly associated with the words tandem mills. (I think)
I'm flying to Deland tomorrow to take my FJC on Friday for the SDU TAFF course, and then staying until I get my "A" license. Rob Laidlaw was highly recommended to me from a friend so thats why I chose Deland. If I finish before you get to Florida I 'll let you know what I thought of the program!
skymama (D 26699)
Feb 6, 2013, 6:34 PM
Post #9 of 18
Having done most of my skydiving in central Florida and being a Moderator on here for many years and welcoming newbies who have reported their experiences, I feel I can say that you will get good instruction and have a good time at BOTH dz's. So, here are things to consider:
-Is there a cost difference that would make it worth your while to choose one over the other? -Where will you be located on I-4? That could mean a HUGE time waste for you if you are on the wrong side; Orlando traffic is horrible at certain times of the day. -Do any of the packages offer tunnel time? (I think Skydive U does) You might as well take advantage of that since you'll be near Orlando; it's beneficial to most people. You would be able to find a tunnel coach in Zhills also. -Since you are small, have you contacted the dz's to find out about their rig options? -Do you want to tour gear manufacturers to get a better idea of which gear you might want to buy (DeLand is a good choice for this). -How late into the night do you like to party? Zhills usually trumps DeLand on this one.
So, in my opinion, it's really apples and oranges; it just depends on what your needs are. You will find very nice and cool people at both places.
I'm a skinny guy with skinny legs (5'9" and 130lbs at most) and so far the 170-220 rigs I KNOW fit me :P The student rigs are all adjustable and they are currently replacing their current older Wings student rigs with brand new javelin rigs. So you might be jumping brand spankin new gear at Z-hills! Since people live on the DZ, many of them stay in the bar at night and just have an all around great time.
For a Student, it's a great way to introduce yourself to the community. Being able to hang out with all the people and talk to them during after hours at the bar and all.
Deland, I'd say is great for once you get your license. Since Performance Designs is right on the DZ you can demo canopies a lot easier.
Z-hills does have the Sunshine Factory where you can rent one of their rigs with a canopy of your choice to demo for a day(think it's $85/per day).
And if you're skinny like me you just might get Sally Hathaway as an instructor which is just about the best instructor you could ever have. She is also a tunnel coach for iFly Orlando.
Whatever the decision, both are great and you should check out both while you're here.
I have never been to Z-Hills so my opinion is only based on my experience with Deland.
I started my AFF training in November with Deland, and after 25 jumps there I cant express how thankful I am for their instruction. The Deland AFF program was amazing, from my first jump, their expertise made me feel comfortable and relaxed. After every jump I received video feedback and instruction, that was spot on to my needs. Just as importantly, EVERY instructor there took time to answer any question I had, and make me feel at home. After completing AFF I wasn't sure what to expect as, now I was working toward my A license, but not under formal, paid, instruction. In my opinion this is where the DZ shined! Every single time I have jumped there EVERYONE has been inviting, friendly, and open to helping or answering anything I asked. While I cant compare the two DZ's, I can whole heartily recommend Deland as a great DZ with amazing people that go out of there way to make you a safe and competent skydiver.
-- I live in Tennessee but will be doing a several- week internship in Florida. The internship is in the middle of central FL, so either DZ would work. I have no desire to rush through AFF in 2 days.
have you been to the tunnel in Gaitlenburg /Pigeon Forge?? Not so much for the tunnel but to see the die hard small community of jumpers in that area, I reecommend you at least check them out? If you ever have the opportunity!
Wow...does Deland potentially shut down at 2 pm on the weekends as well? I guess I was under the impression it was busier. With their fleet of aircraft (at least the ones they show online) I sort of assumed they would have a higher volume of jumpers.
Re: the tunnel in Gatlinburg- no, I haven't been to that one. May have to make a trip.