Mar 30, 2001, 9:53 AM
Post #1 of 13
AFF vs. Standard Progression
I've completed Level 4 on an AFF course 2 years ago in Austrilia and wasn't able to pick it up again until recently. I'm in Canada now where the progression seems slightly different. Before starting AFF again (I believe they call it PFF in most places here) I had to complete two Instructor Assisted Dives (zero delay and instructor throws the pilot chute for you).
So my alternatives now are to jump into the PFF program or go through the Standard Course (Increasing altitude and delay with each jump).
Daemons seem to be controlling the weather here and I'll probably be able to get more jumping in now by doing the Standard Progression as they have low altitude jumps to start. Therefore I'm tending towards this as a better way to go to keep the momentum going (I don't want to wait weeks between jumps). It also appears like a comfortable way to progress.
So, my question is: Are there any preferences or recommendations towards AFF or Standard progression? Anything I should keep in mind?
Im in no position to comment on AFF but i can tell you a little about my standard progression.
I started in Feb 2000 and am currently on 10 sec delay. The dz i am training at is in the UK so the weather has had a huge effect on the jumping oppurtunities ive had. Also ive only been able to jump at weekends ( financial reasons )
I felt that the time in between each jump was having a negative effect on my progression as i would jump a couple of times one weekend, and then weather permitting, waited up to 3 months for my next jump.
So basically, if your sure you can jump frequentlly i cant see no problems with a progression course. I started on a static line a stayed that way until jump 14 when i finally got my first hop n pop ( 3 second delay ) which was last year.
Looking back ive had the best times of my life, ive gained valuble expierience in a wide range of subjects from just lurking around the dz at the weekends and my canopy control is considerablly better with the extra jumps ive had ( compared to AFF ) If your in a rush to be CAt 8 or whatever your equivalent is over there, i cant recommend static progression, but if youve got the cash and weather, you might be missing out on some good fun jumps. Get some advice from an AFF graduate before deciding. Welcome back. Cherry Pies.
I got to freefall via the standard static line method and then recently did AFF (small 7 year gap in the middle). I would definitely recommend you do AFF. It might cost more initially, but will save you money in the long run. Also, you will learn a heck of a lot quicker too. If you can afford it, I would also recommend camera on at least a couple of your AFF jumps (if you decide to go with AFF that is).
Don't let the weather be the deciding factor, soon you will be able to get to altitude for your AFF jumps. Anyway, that was my opinion, you decide what's best for you.
Just how will it save you money in the long run? I went static line and did my first 4 way on my 16th jump I think. Got five points on that dive. Of course that had a lot to do with were I learned and who I was jumping with. I could never have afforded to have finished the AFF program at that point. If I had to do it over again I would not change a thing regardless of money. But some DZ's only offer one disipline(plus tandem), and in that case there may be a big difference in WHERE you learn. I do not believe I could have learned at a better DZ for many reasons. This is important. Bigger is not always better! But again I must ask, how do you think AFF will save you money? I can not see it unless they charge outrageously for staticline which I guess is not that hard to believe today. C
Craddock, here is the student SL Cat 1 progression in South Africa at present:
jumps 1-3. Three static line jumps (no task) jumps 4-8. Five dummy-rip-cord-pull (DRCP) jumps jump 9. First free fall a three second stable delay jump 10. Five second stable delay jump 11. Ten second stable delay x 2 jump 12. Fifteen second in box position and on heading jump 13. Fifteen second count together with altimeter/altitude Awareness jump 14. Twenty second poised exit with altimeter and heading awareness jump 15. Twenty second unpoised (dive) exit with altimeter and heading awareness jump 16. Twenty second 180 degree turns both directions jump 17. Twenty second 360 degree turns both directions jump 18. Twenty second 2 x backloops and wave off jump 19. Full series jump 20. Delta in 2 directions and wave off jump 21. Delta & turn jump 22. Delta & track jump 23. Spin in 1 direction
The SL first jump course is not so cheap anymore (understandable because a lot of people do it as a one off and DZs have to make their money somewhere, as with tandems). The subsequent 7 SL jumps are not that cheap anymore either. Then of course there is always the possibility that the student will get stuck on one particular part of the FF progression (eg back loops) necessitating repeat jumps. With AFF the instruction is hands on, feedback is spot on and not having to repeat any of the levels is not uncommon. I got to freefall via both methods (the fact that I stopped for 7 years was entirely my own *fault*). So, Craddock, I still believe that AFF presents better value for money and will make you a certified skydiver in a shorter time.
Also the price of SL jump tickets has in fact gone up, since most loads go to altitude, and apart from the occasional load of first time SL jumpers, it is getting harder to accomodate SL progression jumpers on other loads. I have noticed that a number of the larger DZs in Europe (Empuria Brava being a good example) no longer offer SL progression at all - all loads go to altitude. I am sure a DZO/CCI from a larger DZ would be able to explain the financial reasons for this (SL jump ticket prices/fuel price/dimishing returns?).
To my mind the difficulty with static line progression is that the first task (a stable exit) is actually very difficult, especially bearing in mind that the exit is the point on any skydive when the jumper feels most afraid, excited, tense, etc... and you can't progress until you get that exit right. Some people nail it immediately - good for them. They save money compared to AFF, and may become qualified only slightly slower.
But there are certainly a lot of people who give up during their first few static line / dummy pull jumps because they can't get the exit consistent.
To me this is the big advantage of AFF - you can get a number of jumps under your belt and relax a bit before you try getting your exits perfect.
I remember this coming up before, so at the risk of repeating myself...
The object of any skydiving training programme is to produce a skydiver who can fall stable, recover from instability, turn, track & track-turn. Oh yes, and operate his parachute/equipment safely!!! In other words the basic survival skills for leaving the 'plane before it starts to descend!!!!!! Ultimately any training system produces the skydiver with an "A" license who turns up at a DZ with his/her own kit ready to jump largely unsupervised.
The fundamental difference between "AFF" (of whatever kind & a "Progression system" (of whatever kind) is NOT the cost of this, which is curently c.$5,000 whichever way you go - it is the timescale in which this money is spent! For example, personally I went through a progression system. 13 months, 26 jumps & I was "A" license with my own kit. i have also seena guy go through the AFF programme in a weekend and in one week (yes!!! ONE WEEK!!!!!) he'd got to the level that took me 13 months!
So... I suppose the really fundamental difference is a mix of finances & committment. I kind of drifted into skydiving (hence the progression system) while Iona "KNOWS" she's going to skydive (hence AFF). Plus (of course) there is the question "Do I have $5,000 available now? or do I spread the cost over time?"
In short, AFF is for those with both committment & "free" cash while Progression is for those who want to "spread" the cost over time.
Oh... BTW... I "quote" $5,000 as a "finished" cost, I.E. the fully trained AND fully equipped skydiver.
I think Mike's points are very valid, good post!. Especially the part about Iona knowing she wants to go into skydiving and so is doing AFF....
I myself started with sl progression, i "nailed the exit" and progressed onto five second delays within i think 9 jumps. However, because the english winter was coming up, i decided to stop sl progression and try and save for aff next (read : this) summer. The reason why i stopped was the problem with currency, i don't know and therefore cannot speak about in the us or elsewhere, but certainly at my dz in england, 4weeks and you go back a stage. Being 1.5hours away from the dz and unable to drive or get the train there without detouring through london, this was particularily difficult for me. I think in my case this is where the advantages of AFF come in, if i was doing it in england i could probabaly camp at the dz for two weeks in august and get it done, sl just wouldn't get done in that time imho. Basically b/c in my limited experience i have found sl lifts just don't go up very often, maybe 3-4 a day, which means you can jump twice a day tops, and thats if the weathers good! (for those who don't know england, it rarely is).
So anyways, i would say both course have their separate merits, but for me AFF is definately the better choice, i can do it for c. £900 in Spain, where sl would cost me about £700 to do in a lot longer time with most probably a lot more stress.
Best of luck whichever course you choose, but I know i'll be AFF-ing over at Empuriobrava this summer (read : i hope i will be )