We have a goal here at Jumptown: To help people achieve their dream of human flight. You've probably noticed that we've designed a totally unique AFF Camp program in order to do just that. (For the uninitiated: AFF is a solo skydiving training method, described in this little presentation (second tab from the left) on the United States Parachuting Association website.) Doing a camp offers significant savings over the traditional AFF program (bonus!). Plus, it provides a focused, intensive learning environment from which we feel students greatly benefit.
When you read about the camp, it sounds kinda wild--you show up at 8 a.m. on a Thursday morning and you're meant to be jumping solo by Sunday. You're probably wondering how that works, exactly. How many jumps do you have to do before you're skydiving solo?
As it turns out, that answer isn't the easiest to pin down. It depends on you, your unique progression and how you define a "solo skydive."
If you're defining "solo skydiving" as the act of getting out of a plane wearing your very own parachute, then congratulations! You'll be "solo skydiving" on your very first AFF (Accelerated Freefall) jump, the Category A. As you can see in that linked video, as an AFF student you'll be accompanied by two instructors holding onto you, but you won't be clipped to anybody else.
The easy answer: Eight.
There's more to it than that, however. And there's more to the jumps than the jumps, as you'll see when you arrive, coffee in hand, on that fateful Thursday morning. The AFF experience includes a classroom-based ground school, eight levels of mastery and a few more supervised jumps afterward before the student nabs that coveted A-license.
Did you catch that "mastery" bit in there? That's where the zen lives. There's a kinda sound-of-one-hand-clapping to the required jump numbers because it's the mastery you demonstrate on each AFF level that determines if you move on to the next level or repeat the one you're on. The whole thing depends on your technique, your focus and your determination. Wax on, wax off.
As in any well-run training program of any type, students don't progress to the next level until they've demonstrated mastery of the level with which they're currently engaged. As there are eight levels within the AFF curriculum, each with a determined set of skills to be mastered and demonstrated, you'll jump at least eight times (and that's if you're a stone-cold natural). Most people jump a couple of times at each level, give or take, but it all depends on you. We set you up for success in the AFF Camp format because the focus is pretty much built-in.
Indeed it does, dear reader. Undertaking the challenge of learning to skydive, even in a program as legendarily awesome as our own, is no small row to hoe. It will require bravery, stamina, and heart, whether you breeze through the program in eight jumps or grit your teeth and take twenty. People learn at different rates and face their unique challenges in different ways.
So: Are you ready to become a skydiver? It may look daunting, but it's not that big a leap. In your heart, you probably already are. What are you waiting for? Let's do this thing.