So after I finally mustered up the courage to go out to Skydive Deland and tell them I want to get my AFF (Accelerated Free Fall or as I call it Skydive License) Certification…they acted as if this was a normal thing. Someone deciding to want to get a certification that allows them to jump out of a perfectly good airplane by their self. I then quickly realized this was the norm for them. Skydive Deland is the SKYDIVE CAPITAL OF THE WORLD. They are open EVERY DAY. “If its jumpable, we’re flying” is their motto – and they hold to it! These instructors have dedicated their lives to this — most having around 8,000-10,000 jumps!
As I stated in my first blog post, you don’t just get to jump out of a plane on the first day. You have to go through an extensive and extremely informative Ground School that lasts anywhere from 4-6 hours. After you pass the Ground School you get to start your series of seven jumps.
So we spent most of the day in the AFF Classroom where I learned the ins and outs of the parachute backpack, the parachute, and ANY and EVERYTHING I need to do from the second I put the chute on, to exiting the plane, to the second I land back on the ground. It sounds so simple, right? It’s very much the opposite. However, my instructor – Will Voorheis, was awesome. He was extremely helpful and went at a pace that was perfect for me so I could understand everything as much as I should.
Without writing an entire book on the Ground School, I will tell you that he started off by introducing the Parachute Backpack to me. Going through every little tool on the pack, then how the chute works. He then showed the proper body formation for the free fall and the procedures that were required to execute a successful skydive. Again, let me emphasize — that is EXTREMELY abbreviated. Will was teaching me the ins and outs for five hours straight.
We then got the the meat of the training…what you do AFTER you exit the plane. This is where I wish my parents (and anyone that is ever worried) could have been in the training. There were a series of six steps I had to master. And then master again. And then master one more time. It explained what I have to do before I jump, when I needed to pull my chute, and what to do after the chute opens.
This is probably the most important part of the training….I have two instructors with me at all times…from take off – to jumping out of the plane. If I (for some reason) forget to pull my chute open…they will do it for me. I also have a radio in my ear, so after free fall – they can instruct me on where to steer my chute to land safely and properly.
Then we had to talk about the WORST CASE SCENARIOS. This is the dreaded but necessary part. It is good to know what to do if I ever get into a worst case scenario…and Will made me feel extremely confident in all of the procedures. We went through a series of twenty different pictures of parachutes that have opened incorrectly and I acted out exactly what to do if this happens. We didn’t do this once. We didn’t do this twice. We probably did it thirty times. Because this is important!
So…after five hours of learning any and everything I can before actually doing the actual jump — I feel extremely prepared and more calm than I did walking in.
Next week….jump 1. I will be jumping out with two instructors next to me at all times and I just have to prove I know when to pull my chute at the correct altitude and that I am aware of my surroundings. Wish me luck! 🙂