Static Line Versus AFF Training

So you have decided that you want to learn to skydive – fantastic! Except now you need to choose the training system you wish to follow. You have two different choices, the AFF (Accelerated FreeFall) course, or the Static line (also known as RAPS) system. Both methods have their pros and cons, and this article explains each system briefly. The best system for you depends on a few main factors, namely your time and financial restrictions.

What are the differences between the Static Line and the AFF course?

Throughout the world, the AFF and Static line systems are used by people who have decided that they would like to learn to skydive. Both methods are well established and have their own pluses and minuses.
The average number of jumps it takes to complete the static line system is about 30 – 50 parachute descents. This method of learning to skydive is the traditional way, and students jump on their own from their very first jump. Most people who learn to skydive using this method spread their learning time over a longer period, because of the number of jumps that are required to pass the course. However, despite taking longer in time, this does spread the financial costs too.
The AFF course requires a minimum of 8 skydives to graduate, and is a much more intensive training method. Students jump with instructors holding onto them in freefall, starting off with 2 instructors on levels 1, 2 and 3, then one instructor for subsequent levels. Once these AFF skydives are completed, the student then goes on to make 10 solo ‘consolidation’ jumps. These skydives are designed for the student to consolidate the knowledge and skills learnt throughout the AFF course.
This system is designed to be undertaken over a continuous space of time, and the training can be started and completed in as little as 2 days. Financially, this does mean that there is a larger initial outlay straight away.

How many students will be training alongside me in the Static line system?

You can be taught in a group of up to 12 students whilst learning to skydive under the static line system, university students are one of the main groups of people that favour the system for this. You go through an initial ground school before making your first parachute jump, and after this jump it is quick and easy to go through the brief for your next jump. You will probably share all of the briefs, training and debriefing with the rest of your group, so will therefore have minimal time with your instructor to focus on your own personal skills.

How many students will be training alongside me in with the AFF system?

The AFF method of training is best suited to a one on one instructor/student ratio. This is due to the shorter time period that the course is experienced over. On AFF levels 1, 2 and 3, you will be skydiving with two AFF instructors on each skydive. This makes sure that every student has the maximum teaching time and training from their AFF instructor, and therefore able to work on any difficulties you as a student may have. Before each AFF skydive you will undertake a detailed brief, going through the skydive with your instructor. After each skydive you will sit down with your AFF instructor for a detailed debrief. Every AFF skydive is filmed by your instructor, so you can watch the video of your skydive and see exactly what you are doing in freefall, focusing on any areas for improvement. This video is invaluable as a learning aid, and it is not uncommon for static line students to convert to the AFF system in order to solve problems such as turning in freefall, due to the insight and freefall teaching time that the AFF system offers.

Will by instructor be jumping with me on each skydive?

With the static line system, you start jumping at lower altitudes and your parachute is automatically deployed. As you progress through the system, the altitude and therefore freefall delay increase. As a result, the instruction you get focuses on your body position on exit, and your canopy control. Later on in the course, when you start having a freefall delay you will be deploying your own canopy, still jumping alone. You will be fully drilled and briefed on your emergency procedures, however you are on your own should something not go as planned.
Learning to skydive on the AFF system, you have your instructor jump with you and give you teaching whilst in freefall using hand signals. Your AFF instructor will only ever be an arms length away- allowing your instructor to assist you should you encounter any difficulties. As an AFF student, your instructor communicates with you to help you improve your body position whilst in freefall, allowing you to actually learn in the air. This is a big plus point, and is what makes the AFF course ‘accelerated’, for the reason that you receive in air tuition. Your instructor will be able to tailor the course to your specific requirements, and give you more freedom in freefall.

Should I go abroad to learn to skydive?

Weather. One of the advantages of learning to skydive using the Static line method is the lower altitude that you jump from in the earlier stages of the program. The first five parachute descents are made from 3,500 ft, so should there be cloud cover (as you may find in the UK), you may still be able to jump. As long as the cloud is above their exit altitude, static line students can still jump. AFF students need a minimum exit altitude of 9000ft to jump, so the cloud base must be above this height. The AFF course is designed to be completed over a continuous time period, so many AFF students complete the course abroad. Spain and Florida are popular destinations, and better weather means more skydives, less delays, and therefore less chance of needing to repeat any levels.

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