The Accelerated Free Fall Skydiving course (AFF) is a fast track skydiving lesson programme that can take you from complete beginner to a fully qualified skydiver. Your first jump is usually from between 14,000 and 16,000 feet and you will be accompanied by a primary and secondary instructor and they will guide you through the art of free fall by way of hand signals. You will experience around 60 seconds of free fall before you begin to open your parachute at 6,000 feet. Your first jump is part of an average of a 6-7 day course comprising of eight AFF levels and a minimum of ten consolidation jumps that will qualify you as an official skydiver in your own right. If you wish to progress further with skydiving this is probably the quickest and most motivating method in which to progress.
The first thing you must complete is the mandatory ground training. It consists of a minimum of six hours and covers orientation of the parachute, the centre facilities, equipment familiarisation, post-landing procedures, body position during free fall, aircraft exiting procedures, the AFF sequence and actions to be completed, aircraft drills, fight procedures, flying and controlling the parachute, parachute landing procedures and emergency parachute operation.
There are 8 levels to be completed for the British AFF qualification and students must pass each level in turn before starting the next level.
Firstly you move to the aircraft door with both the primary and the secondary instructors holding onto you from each side of your skydiving suit and parachute harness. When they say “OK” you should shout “Ready, set, go” and you can then jump from the aircraft with both instructors holding you. You’ll begin to free fall. You should then scan the horizon and pick out a reference point that you can use to refer back to and see where you are heading. You should then look at your altimeter to check your altitude and tell this height to both the instructors. Whilst doing this the instructors will provide you with hand signals to amend your body position and will give you an “OK” signal once corrected (H.A.S.P. procedure). You should then reach out and touch your deployment handle three times to show that you are aware of its position. You may then continue to free fall to an altitude of 6,000 feet. At 6,000 feet you should open your parachute using the deployment handle and continue to control and land parachute as directed in your ground training.
You will exit the aircraft and carry on the H.A.S.P. procedure exactly as detailed in level one. Once you receive an “OK” from both instructors, you will reach and touch your deployment handle twice. You will then complete a 90-degree turn left and right then continue to free fall to 6,000 feet where secondary instructor will atempt to release you, reducing the instructors stabilising effect. At 6,000 feet you will deploy your parachute and land at the designated landing area.
You will exit the aircraft and carry out the H.A.S.P. procedure. Then you will need to reach and touch your deployment handle once. You can then continue to free fall to 6,000 feet. At this time your instructors will aim to release you if you have managed to position your body correctly. This is to demonstrate that you can stay in control and maintain a heading. At 6,000 feet you will deploy your parachute and land at the designated landing area.
During the next four levels, you will be reduced to one principle instructor having demonstrated the ability to control and understand the previous lessons.
You will exit the aircraft and carry out the H.A.P. procedure when you receive the “OK” signal from your instructor you will complete one practice parachute deployment. Your AFF instructor will then release you and move so that they are now facing you. The instructor will then ask you to complete a 90 degree turn to both the left and right which you will continue to practise as signalled by your instructor until reach 7,000 feet where you will signal ‘no more work’ to your instructor (by a shake of the head) and then finally upon reaching 5,000 feet you will deploy your parachute and land at the designated landing area.
This is primarily the same as level four except that you will be expected to perform a number of left and right 360 degree turns. As with level four, you will again signal ‘no more work’ to your instructor and continue to monitor your altimeter where upon reaching 5,000 feet you will deploy your parachute and again land at the designated landing area.
You should move towards the aircraft exit and ask your instructor if he’s ready. You will then dive out the aircraft and your instructor will follow you. Your instructor will then move in front of you and if your body position is correct your instructor will give you the signal to complete a backward somersault. By doing this you are proving that you can regain control after losing stability. You will then check your altimeter and, providing that you are above 7,000 feet, you will create some forward movement for five seconds (this is known as tracking). Once you have reached 4,500 feet you will deploy your parachute and land at the designated landing area.
This is mostly an amalgamation of levels five and six. As previously, you will move to the aircraft exit and ask your instructor if he’s ready. You will then complete a forward somersault out of the aircraft holding the position for three seconds, regain stability and check your altimeter, followed by creating forward movement (a track) for five seconds. Next, you complete a series of 360 degree turns both left and right. All maneuvers must be stopped by 6,000 feet. Again, once you reach 4,500 feet, you will deploy your parachute and land at the designated landing area.
You will exit the aircraft when advised by an instructor at 5,000 feet and deploy your parachute stably within ten seconds. At this point, you will receive congratulations as you would have now completed your BPA AFF Course! If you wish to obtain your BPA A licence, you will need to complete a further 1-consolidation skydives and complete the canopy handling level one (CH1) exam.
The CH1 Exam
The CH1 or Canopy handling exam is a 2-page open book exam which consists of 14 questions. All the answers are in the manual. This shows that you have read and understood the manual. You will then need to take this exam to your local Parachute centre and the CI will check and sign.