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Namowal

How not to be the "problem student?" in AFF

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I've also poked around these message boards and read stuff about poor AFF students- ones who "didn't get it" ones who made dangerous mistakes, even ones who were politely told to pursue another hobby.
This concerns me because I'd like to take AFF classes but I'm a slowish learner at anything physical. I'm not lazy, reckless or stupid, but every skill I've learned (walking, swimming, catching a ball, driving, riding a bike, yoga, SCUBA etc..) took me a bit longer than average. There was some struggling, then the "Ah ha! That's how it's done!" moment.
Will this put me in "problem student" territory?
My blog with the skydiving duck cartoons.

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-Ask a lot of questions.
-Listen to the answers.
-Ask more questions if you still don't understand.
-Get a copy of the Skydivers Information Manual (SIM) and read it.
-Read it again.:D
-Read and review any other materials your DZ gives you.
-Poke around these forums if you want, but don't try to learn to skydive on the internet (unless you're reading the SIM online).
-Write down questions you have and bring them to your instructors next time you're at the DZ.
-Spend time at the DZ when the instructors aren't crazy busy if you can (weather holds, weekdays, after hours) and ask more questions.
-Take it all one jump at a time (this can be especially helpful with the SIM - you can focus on the dive flow and learning objectives for the next area so you don't get totally overwhelmed with new information).
-Practice. All the practice on the ground is free. Do it as many times as you need to in order to lock it in.
-If you're not connecting with a particular instructor, give them a chance - ask them to explain something differently, or see if you can reflect it back and ask "Am I getting that right?" Sometimes it's just a matter of finding the right communication style. And if all that doesn't work, it's okay to say "Can I try working with someone else?"
-Visualize. Run through the complete dive flow in your mind a bunch of times before you actually do it. Run through it with your instructor(s) before the jump, several times if needed. Ask questions if you don't understand a step.
-Relax. Many people in this sport are "naturals" then there's those of us who have to work really hard just to achieve mediocrity (like me!). It took me 37 jumps to get my A license, and at 800+ I only now feel mildly competent.
"There is only one basic human right, the right to do as you damn well please. And with it comes the only basic human duty, the duty to take the consequences." -P.J. O'Rourke

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As a current AFF student I'll say that skydiving is one of the laziest sports to learn, doesn't require much physical exertion, if anything the more relaxed you are the better.

It's really more about being mentally relaxed and calm, which can be difficult when trying to remember all the steps you're supposed to do while falling at 120+ miles towards the earth.

But I've found it's getting easier and less stressful with each successive successful jump.

Again RELAX, that's the biggest piece to the puzzle for me.

*oh yeah and mentally visualize each jump OVER AND OVER to help calm yourself.
The feather butts bounce off ya like raindrops hitting a battle-star when they come in too fast...kinda funny to watch. - airtwardo

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Great list of tips.
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Thanks!

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-Ask a lot of questions.
-Listen to the answers.
-Ask more questions if you still don't understand.
-Get a copy of the Skydivers Information Manual (SIM) and read it.
-Read it again.:D
-Read and review any other materials your DZ gives you.
-Poke around these forums if you want, but don't try to learn to skydive on the internet (unless you're reading the SIM online).
-Write down questions you have and bring them to your instructors next time you're at the DZ.
-Spend time at the DZ when the instructors aren't crazy busy if you can (weather holds, weekdays, after hours) and ask more questions.
-Take it all one jump at a time (this can be especially helpful with the SIM - you can focus on the dive flow and learning objectives for the next area so you don't get totally overwhelmed with new information).
-Practice. All the practice on the ground is free. Do it as many times as you need to in order to lock it in.
-If you're not connecting with a particular instructor, give them a chance - ask them to explain something differently, or see if you can reflect it back and ask "Am I getting that right?" Sometimes it's just a matter of finding the right communication style. And if all that doesn't work, it's okay to say "Can I try working with someone else?"
-Visualize. Run through the complete dive flow in your mind a bunch of times before you actually do it. Run through it with your instructor(s) before the jump, several times if needed. Ask questions if you don't understand a step.
-Relax. Many people in this sport are "naturals" then there's those of us who have to work really hard just to achieve mediocrity (like me!). It took me 37 jumps to get my A license, and at 800+ I only now feel mildly competent.


My blog with the skydiving duck cartoons.

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As a current AFF student I'll say that skydiving is one of the laziest sports to learn, doesn't require much physical exertion, if anything the more relaxed you are the better.

It's really more about being mentally relaxed and calm, which can be difficult when trying to remember all the steps you're supposed to do while falling at 120+ miles towards the earth.

But I've found it's getting easier and less stressful with each successive successful jump.

Again RELAX, that's the biggest piece to the puzzle for me.

*oh yeah and mentally visualize each jump OVER AND OVER to help calm yourself.


Thanks, Charlie5. I'll do that.
My blog with the skydiving duck cartoons.

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You could also consider going the staticline route. Less to learn for each jump, it goes at a slower pace. And repeating a jump is quite cheap compared to AFF.


Good point. My closest drop zone doesn't offer static line, but there's ones further away that do. Maybe it's worth the drive.
My blog with the skydiving duck cartoons.

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You could also consider going the staticline route. Less to learn for each jump, it goes at a slower pace. And repeating a jump is quite cheap compared to AFF.


Good point. My closest drop zone doesn't offer static line, but there's ones further away that do. Maybe it's worth the drive.



As a static line baby, I would still say give your closer DZs that do AFF a try first, since those are more likely to become your "home" DZ as you grow in the sport. The more time you spend there as a student, the better you'll get to know the local folks.

Your profile says you're in Los Angeles; you've got lots of great DZs (relatively) close. I'd say go visit all of them; Skydive Elsinore and Skydive Perris are within spitting distance of each other; there's even two different skydiving schools at Perris. Go check 'em both out, plus Elsinore, and see which one feels best for you.
"There is only one basic human right, the right to do as you damn well please. And with it comes the only basic human duty, the duty to take the consequences." -P.J. O'Rourke

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Skydive Elsinore and Skydive Perris are within spitting distance of each other; there's even two different skydiving schools at Perris. Go check 'em both out, plus Elsinore, and see which one feels best for you.



I did my second tandem at Elsinore. I really liked it. That's where the "I wanna learn to do this on my own" bug bit. Haven't been to Perris (yet) :)
My blog with the skydiving duck cartoons.

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If Your in the LA area i would Def. Recommend Skydive Elsinore.

im going through my AFF program there right now and every instructor, employee, jumpers & people around the DZ have been absolutely awesome and fun to be around.

i have never had a problem clarifying anything with my instructors and they did a outstanding job explaining everything to me before i got into a plane. at first i was apprehensive and nervous when i started my jump school, in fact i was scared shitless but the instruction they gave me took all of that away and i had an awesome time.

your worries of being a slow learner should not be a worry. no one picks up everything the first time through

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I failed AFF level 4 THREE TIMES because i would panic at 4,000 feet, stiffen right up like a board, and pat the same wrong spot of my container wondering why i can't find the f*cking pilot chute handle. I needed assisted pulls.. and i was starting to lose interest in trying.

When i finally graduated my solo, my biggest surprise was how SIMPLE it really is.

You have three priorities.. ARCH, ALTITUDE AWARENESS, AND PULL. If you get those three things, you're golden. THATS ALL THERE IS TO IT. If you're nervous about canopy control, keep going on radio assistance and just do what you're told. so easy.

My biggest mistake was being so hard on myself. I tensed up too much. You really need to learn to relax and stop worrying about your rate of progression. you just need to have fun because that's the whole point.

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I've also poked around these message boards and read stuff about poor AFF students- ones who "didn't get it" ones who made dangerous mistakes, even ones who were politely told to pursue another hobby.
This concerns me because I'd like to take AFF classes but I'm a slowish learner at anything physical. I'm not lazy, reckless or stupid, but every skill I've learned (walking, swimming, catching a ball, driving, riding a bike, yoga, SCUBA etc..) took me a bit longer than average. There was some struggling, then the "Ah ha! That's how it's done!" moment.
Will this put me in "problem student" territory?

No, but posting questions here rather than asking your instructors may....
The difference between stupidity and genius is that genius has its limits." -- Albert Einstein

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No, but posting questions here rather than asking your instructors may....



Very true, ALWAYS listen to your instructors over anything you read on these forums.
The feather butts bounce off ya like raindrops hitting a battle-star when they come in too fast...kinda funny to watch. - airtwardo

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No, but posting questions here rather than asking your instructors may....



Very true, ALWAYS listen to your instructors over anything you read on these forums.


Sounds reasonable to me. To do otherwise would be like taking medical advice from the internet over what your doctor told you.
My blog with the skydiving duck cartoons.

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If you're nervous about canopy control, keep going on radio assistance and just do what you're told. so easy.



Setting yourself up to COUNT ON radio is not necessarily a good idea, or the best advice. Radios can, and *DO* "fail". Then, if set up to be COUNTING ON this as your "so easy" savior - where would the OP (or anyone thinking this is a good/viable option) then be?

Think about that. I would not recommend anyone put themselves out, in a position where they are absolutely expecting/counting on this! JMO. YMMV.
coitus non circum - Moab Stone

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I'm not lazy, reckless or stupid



I think this already gets you clear of the 'problem student' category. :D

Seriously, I don't think there's any reliable way to tell in advance how you'll react to skydiving or to skydiving instruction. I don't SCUBA dive, but I'd guess that's probably the closest comparison in terms of your prior experience - 'alien' environment, life-saving procedures, non-verbal communication, new equipment to learn.

No matter how long it takes you, expect your instructors to have at least as much patience as you do. That's part of their job!

Good luck, but most of all, enjoy... :)

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Are you a visual learner?
Are you a tactile learner?
Are you an auditory learner?
Are you a kinesthetic learner?

Do you learn better from books?
Do you learn better from looking at maps and diagrams?
Do you learn better from watching videos?
Do you learn better while listening?

The best schools combine several of these methods - at every stage in the learning process to try to "catch" all the different learning styles.
Once a student has "grasped" the theory, then they walk students through a series of ground rehearsals before then can rehearse perfectly - without coaching - before they attempt the skill in the air.

No single method is "best" for learning how to skydive, rather different methods work best a teaching different skills at different stages of the learning process.

For example, you already know that tandem is the best way to get through the "sensory overload" of anyone's first skydive.

Ground launching is a good method for learning the basics of how to steer a parachute.

Then static-line (or Instructor-Assisted Deployment) is that best way to learn the basics of steering a parachute around the landing pattern.

Wind tunnels are the best place to learn the basics of freefall stability and turns.

Accelerated Freefall Instructors have the best methods for teaching you how to open your own parachute.

Etc.

The bottom line is that the best skydiving schools use a variety of different methods.

Etc.

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Hey, I really like 'riggerbob's advice. He's got an excellent point, which holds true for anything, not just skydiving. Also, and I know that I'm a newbie to the sport myself, but, always keep in mind, that if you don't feel comfortable and ready to do a jump, you certainly don't have to. In other words, if you think you need more time to learn whatever it is that you're learning, then take the time to do it. There's nothing wrong that, and if it makes you feel more confident, then all the better. I'm sure you'll do great out there, take care. :)
Life's not permanent, don't take it too seriously! :-)

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Check out the wind tunnel in Perris.


I've heard about it. Sounds like a good idea.
There's a tunnel near where I live (iFly Hollywood) that I've spent a little time in. (I wanted to see how stable I was in the tube before I tried it out in the sky.) Any advantage to using the Perris one? I suppose one might argue that my local one is "only" a tourist attraction and "serious" would-be students use the one in Perris. [:/] Or are the "staying-stable-and-moving-around-in-a-tunnel" skills pretty much the same?

(edited for clarity)
My blog with the skydiving duck cartoons.

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Thanks for all the info!
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Are you a visual learner?
Are you a tactile learner?
Are you an auditory learner?
Are you a kinesthetic learner?

Do you learn better from books?
Do you learn better from looking at maps and diagrams?
Do you learn better from watching videos?
Do you learn better while listening?

The best schools combine several of these methods - at every stage in the learning process to try to "catch" all the different learning styles.
Once a student has "grasped" the theory, then they walk students through a series of ground rehearsals before then can rehearse perfectly - without coaching - before they attempt the skill in the air.

No single method is "best" for learning how to skydive, rather different methods work best a teaching different skills at different stages of the learning process.

For example, you already know that tandem is the best way to get through the "sensory overload" of anyone's first skydive.

Ground launching is a good method for learning the basics of how to steer a parachute.

Then static-line (or Instructor-Assisted Deployment) is that best way to learn the basics of steering a parachute around the landing pattern.

Wind tunnels are the best place to learn the basics of freefall stability and turns.

Accelerated Freefall Instructors have the best methods for teaching you how to open your own parachute.

Etc.

The bottom line is that the best skydiving schools use a variety of different methods.

Etc.


My blog with the skydiving duck cartoons.

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Check out the wind tunnel in Perris.

Any advantage to using the Perris one?



If you go with one of the Perris or Elsinore schools, they can have an instructor work with you during your tunnel session. I did my AFF at Elsinore, and my instructors recommended that if I wanted to do tunnel, to do it after the level 2 dive, with the possibility of moving on to level 4 after the tunnel (which saves some money). My experience is only reflective of my learning process, and yours will inevitably be different, but I got a lot out of the tunnel session - a more stable arch, better feel for forward/back control and turn control.

Good luck, and I hope to see you out there as soon as you feel ready!

Tim

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Vocalize what your doing through out the entire jump. It seriously helps. Yell your face off. Relax. Relaxing is hard to do after you jump out of a plane but it is one of the most important parts of learning to skydive. I passed my AFF in two consecutive days with no repeats. Breathe, arch, relax, altitude, and pull. That's all there is to it.;)

Fly safe.

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