Life After AFF

So, you’ve just completed your AFF course, suddenly your eyes have been opened to a whole new world and you want to learn more. If you are even a little bit like me, you are already going to bed in the evenings thinking about where and when your next skydive will be, what is in store for the future, and who you will meet along the way. Fingers crosses, the information below will point you in the right direction.


Licences, membership and your home DZ

Once you are back in the UK, you will need to figure out which parachute centre you are going to make your home dropzone. This is the place where you are probably going to spend a lot of your free money and time!

When I completed my AFF course and went back to the UK, I went directly to Hibaldstow. They helped me to find other people to jump with, were very friendly, and they also fly their aircrafts to 15,000ft on every skydive! Since then, I also have jumped at Weston and South Cerney and they were also very friendly and good dropzones too. When you have decided which dropzone you are going to jump at first, pay them a visit. Take your logbook and AFF video to the office or manifest and there will always be someone there to help you.

Getting your " A " License

The dropzone chief instructor (or CCI) will be able to sign you up for your FAI A license, which you will then post to the BPA. In return, you will receive a nice little licence book. You will also need to become a member of the BPA (British Parachute Association). The BPA membership also includes a subscription to the BPA skydiving magazine, and includes the mandatory third party liability insurance that you are required to have in the UK and Europe (the third party insurance does not cover you in the US). Then, all you need to do is sign the medical declaration of fitness and now you can get ready to jump!

Gear Hire vs. Gear purchase

Gear hire has been available at all of the UK dropzones that I have jumped at. The equipment I personally hired was well maintained and very safe. However, it is quite expensive to keep hiring equipment, and you will already be starting to consider buying some of your own equipment. I grasped that that money that I could spend on buying my own gear could have all been used on gear rental in about 200 skydives, making the investment very sound. Purchasing your own skydiving gear is a definite commitment to your skydiving future, so you should be 100% sure that you seriously want to continue skydiving.

Be wary of people who try to sell you their unwanted stuff, or who are just trying to make a fast buck. Always seek qualified advice from your AFF instructor.

Find a coach and stay current

You may like to start learning some new things after you have done a few solo jumps at your home DZ. The first part in your training is to complete the BPA CH2 certificate, and this is required for your FAI B license. To gain this certificate, you will need to take an open book exam and complete some practical exercises.

Formation Skydiving

Secondly, you will need to learn some more advanced body flight techniques, and how to fly safely relative to other skydivers. Find yourself a qualified Formation skydiving (FS) coach to help you do this. As part of the coaching, you will gain the BPA FS1 rating.

As you become more skilled, you will be able to jump with existing and new friends, which is the best feeling in the world, especially as you make each jump a little more action packed and challenging. Keeping up with your coaching will ensure that you keep improving, it will keep you current too and make sure that you don’t have too long a break between skydives.


Find a jump buddy and learn to pack

Now you are FS1 qualified, you will be able to put some of your new skills to use! The best way of doing this is to jump with other people. Jump buddies can be a more experienced skydiver, or a like minded individual who is at a similar level.

You will save money by learning to pack. Typically, a pack job costs about 5 GBP, and if you are at a boogie doing a lot of skydives, then your packing bill may even end up more than your flight tickets that got you there in the first place! Its doesn’t just save you money, by learning to pack you will gain knowledge of different types of skydiving equipment- e.g. how to change your closing loop, effect the opening characteristics of your canopy, and when you need to call in the skills of a rigger!

Go to organised events

Boogies, and other organised events are the best way to make a lot of jumps in a short space of time. You will find load organisers at boogies, who will organise fun skydives and get you doing all sorts of fun stuff. Sometime free coaching is offered, and there are normally extra aircraft drafted in, so that everyone can do as many skydives as they want. Your learning curve at an event like this will be much steeper then seasonal, or regular weekend jumping due to the time period being concentrated. For example, I managed 30 skydives in 6 days at a Christmas boogie, a canopy course AND some FS coached jumps – mad!

Jump more, learn more, enjoy more!

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