How does one actually become a skydiver? Are you just given a parachute and some advice and thrown from an airplane? This is not how things are done, but you will likely be surprised about how quickly it is to get started with this amazing sport and become a bona fide certified skydiver. Here is how it works…
The Accelerated FreeFall student training program is by far the most common way for people to get into skydiving, and has been refined through the years into a very efficient method of teaching students about both freefall and parachuting. It is the quickest way to experience solo freefall while working from the very start on the things you require for your initial skydiving ‘A’ license. AFF is used around the world, and while there can be a few small differences here and there – the format is basically the same wherever you are. In the United States, the AFF course has seven levels through which you must progress – each representing an important step forward in your foundational knowledge. After passing these you can jump either alone or with a suitably qualified coach – up until you have 25 jumps when you can test out for your A license (and many more awesome things to pursue become available).
The vast majority of skydiving governance in the USA is done by an organization United States Parachute Association (USPA), a non-profit entity responsible for overseeing all the necessary practices and procedures involved with parachuting operations. The USPA produces manuals and associated training materials used for teaching AFF courses, but the exact form of how things are done depends on where you go and who you train with. Here at the Oklahoma Skydiving Center we run a first jump ground school every Saturday of the year starting from 09:00. Weekday ground school is also available by appointment depending on interest and what is generally going on. We have pretty good weather for skydiving in Oklahoma, and once your initial classroom training is complete you should move quickly into actually jumping. Ground school happens come rain or shine though.
Tandem skydiving is by far the most common way people go skydiving for the first time. The piggy-back harness setup allows for the student (on the front) to enjoy the experience while the instructor (on the back) does the technical stuff. Over time, people realized that not only is tandem skydiving a great way to get new people skydiving very quickly, it is also a very efficient method of teaching students the initial skills they require in the AFF progression system. Here at the OSC we use tandem progression, where your first two student skydives are in tandem with your instructor – before you move on to level 3 where you jump with two instructors flying with you in the air. After this, as you get more and more comfortable with freefall, you gradually assume more and more responsibility. Two instructors become one – who just holds you a bit for the exit then releases you on the way down. In the later stages, you are fully solo, with your instructor just present in the sky to give you some tasks and assess your performance.
Skydiving is an amazing sport that can completely change your life. Progressing through the AFF course and earning yourself a license is a huge achievement you will treasure forever. Once you are a qualified skydiver this is just the beginning of many adventures and challenges – but few seasoned jumpers will deny that their earliest skydives were some of the very best. We have a great community here at OSC, and everything you need to get started in skydiving in the best possible way. From the very basics, all the way through to more advanced skills such as wingsuit flying – we have got you covered.
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