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Chris__

Failing to jump AFF 1

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Hello, My name is Chris and I'm at a two week AFF course where supposedly we are going to do 7 jumps up to level 7, and then 13 level 8 jumps, in order to get the A-license. We were finished with theoretical and practical examination a few days ago, and now we have been waiting for the right weather to start jumping. I had a lot of anxiety (which took me by surprise) when we were ready to jump and was sort of glad the weather failed us until now. I spoke with my instructors and said I didn't feel ready and I suggested maybe I should do a tandem first (I've never jumped before). They were only half-way supportive and assured me that they themselves thought I had all the knowledge and skills I needed to do AFF 1 successfully, but that it was up to me to decide. So I worked on my anxiety for a couple of days, and today I felt ready, and went into the airplane and took off together with two instructors and a lot of other people. As soon as the airplane took off I was just completely horrified. And when the door opened up it could not have felt more wrong. The instructor who joined me on the airplane on the way down said that I could do a tandem if I wanted to later in the day together with him if I wanted to and that he was aware that I had considered that possibilty. He was very pleasant and had a lot of empathy. But now I'm not even sure that I have to motivation to even do a tandem. I've been extremly fascinated by skydiving for the past 3 months, watching everything I could find about it on youtube. I was pretty sure that I would experience a mix of feelings and at times that it would really challenge my sense of fear, but that it should feel this completely impossible took me really by surprise. Any thoughts or advice on this situation would be greatly appriciated. - Chris

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Hi Chris.  I encourage you to try again.  There are several people on this forum that have had the same experience, tried again, and gone on to be successful skydivers.

One thing that has always helped me when I have had to do something scary was to make the decision to do it or not do it ahead of time.  The idea is that I fully understand that when the time comes to do it, I will be in an irrational state of mind, and possibly even a full freakout.  Make the decision on the ground the day of or even the day before with the understanding that when the time comes your mind will be telling you not to do it.  Factor that freakout into your expectations.  It's worked for me in the past.

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2 hours ago, Chris__ said:

Hello, My name is Chris and I'm at a two week AFF course where supposedly we are going to do 7 jumps up to level 7, and then 13 level 8 jumps, in order to get the A-license. We were finished with theoretical and practical examination a few days ago, and now we have been waiting for the right weather to start jumping. I had a lot of anxiety (which took me by surprise) when we were ready to jump and was sort of glad the weather failed us until now. I spoke with my instructors and said I didn't feel ready and I suggested maybe I should do a tandem first (I've never jumped before). They were only half-way supportive and assured me that they themselves thought I had all the knowledge and skills I needed to do AFF 1 successfully, but that it was up to me to decide. So I worked on my anxiety for a couple of days, and today I felt ready, and went into the airplane and took off together with two instructors and a lot of other people. As soon as the airplane took off I was just completely horrified. And when the door opened up it could not have felt more wrong. The instructor who joined me on the airplane on the way down said that I could do a tandem if I wanted to later in the day together with him if I wanted to and that he was aware that I had considered that possibilty. He was very pleasant and had a lot of empathy. But now I'm not even sure that I have to motivation to even do a tandem. I've been extremly fascinated by skydiving for the past 3 months, watching everything I could find about it on youtube. I was pretty sure that I would experience a mix of feelings and at times that it would really challenge my sense of fear, but that it should feel this completely impossible took me really by surprise. Any thoughts or advice on this situation would be greatly appriciated. - Chris

Do the tandem. It will be fun, you can air it out with someone else handling the technical stuff, you'll be introduced to the sky and you'll get hands-on instruction on steering and flaring. A typical progression is at least two tandems which is more instruction time on steering and landing. No shame there doing the tandem. 

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Haha!

Thank you guys!

I did a tandem earlier today!

Holy schmokes what an awesome experience that was!

That is one of the absolutely coolest experiences I've ever had!

But I'm not sure that I need more of those. But I'm intensely glad that I have now experienced jumping out of an airplane first-hand after having invested so much energy into all this. But the building up of tension and release, and that whole emotional rollercoaster of this. Hahahaha. Sooo intense. One full cycle was awesome, and maybe enough. Time will tell :-)

The skydiving community is also a really awesome, loving and supporting community. Really glad to have experienced this community from the inside as well. The whole class cheered on me as we went in for landing. Hahaha. I'm the kid in class with special needs hahaha, but that is fine :-)

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Hi, Chris,

I rode 5 planes down as a student (static line, and then progressive ff), and then went on to make 800 jumps.

Don't feel so down on yourself.  No one expects you to feel instantly comfortable  doing something where every nerve is screaming that it  is counter to normal human behavior .

 

The real question is do you want to do this more than the fear?   Is it worth it to you to bull through?

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Perhaps some tunnel time will help alleviate another unknown factor... freefall stability. I've just recently got my A license and I basically choked down and ignored any fear on the earlier jumps and solely concentrated on the task at hand.

One hiccup that I had on my very first AFF jump was the stupid seatbelt! lol  I had no experience with it nor knew anything about it... I was getting yelled at to buckle up but couldn't find the seatbelt, when it was thrust into my hand I didn't know where the hell it was supposed to go! A seemingly small thing but I got panicked and that set the whole damn mood for the jump. I had to really concentrate on the dive flow and block the panicky feeling that in all honestly was threatening to overwhelm me...

Keep at it! You're in good hands and NO ONE wants to see you fail or get hurt...

Tim

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Thanks for all replies!

Lots of good advice. I left the course after 9 days. Felt wrong to stick around with only having done one tandem-jump, and I couldn’t find any motivation to do more jumps. I think I was pretty exhausted from all the anxiety before that failed AFF 1 jump, and then the next day I almost aborted the tandem-jump as well, but fortunately I didn’t resist it enough for my instructor to stop the process when we were moving toward the exit. As soon as the free-fall had stabilized it immediately felt really good, and I was just so damn glad we were out of that plane. I was extremly high for the rest of the day, and although that was very pleasant, the total sum of the emotional rollercoaster this whole thing triggered was like very demanding and I think I need some more time to process it all before I can do more jumps.

However, I do feel pretty hooked on the whole experience and the skydiving community, and I think I have no other choice but to find a way to make this work.

Compared to most of the people on this course I think I’m a pretty sensitive guy, and my highs and lows can be pretty intense when I submit myself to an experience like this, so I think I should probably do a few more tandem-jumps before I start the training to become an independent skydiver again, in order to acclimatize myself to the experience.

But thank God I actually found someone there who could take me through a tandem-experience. That guy was a genius! Before we entered the plane he was even coaching me to bring my thoughts and focus towards the fun and exciting aspects of this experience, and to steer away from becoming absorbed in fear.

I think I was a bit unlucky with the two guys who were going to do the AFF 1 jump with me. They were pretty distant and didn’t seem to value establishing contact with me. My friend who was also on the course had some really cool instructors who came to him 50 min before the jump and established contact with him. And in the plane one of the guys suddenly took his hand and held it and told him to take a deep breath and relax while smiling to him. But it might not have made any difference. All in all I’m just glad I actually experienced jumping out of an airplane and finding out it was totally awesome, because I was pretty close to decide the whole thing was not for me.

But the fact that so many tried to talk me out of doing a tandem when I started to freak out about doing AFF 1 I think was pretty bad. Eventually I gave in to group-pressure and decided to just give it a try, and that didn’t work very well. We had 3 days on the ground were they wouldn’t let new students up in the air because there was too much wind, but experienced jumpers jumped during this time, and I saw many tandem-jumps as well. Had I been more proactive during this waiting-period I would have just made sure to get a tandem instead of sitting around waiting for something I was freaked out about.

But now that I’m going to do more tandem-jumps before attempting a course like this again I think that will make all these variables outside of myself less important.

The absolutely most important thing that happened was experiencing how the panic that came from losing solid ground under ones feet so quickly turned into a blissful feeling as soon as the free-fall reached full speed. Extremly fascinating how one can accelerate into free-fall stability. And extremly fascinating how ones sense of panic can peak during this acceleration, and then it just suddenly transforms into bliss and peace and an intensly beautiful panoramic view opens up.

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