What’s an AFF Course? Insights from our Skydiving School

Friday, November 13, 2020


A very important part of Skydive Spain is our Skydiving Course, also known in these days as AFF course (Accelerated Free Fall course). We take a great amount of pleasure watching as our skydiving course students transform from a new customer with only 1 tandem under their belt, or quite often zero jumps, into a fully qualified skydiver, usually in a matter of a few days.

The learning curve for skydiving students is aggressively steep to say the least.  The acute mental and physical capacity required to attend the school everyday, retain an abundance of new and sometimes technical information, not to mention navigate around the unfamiliar skydiving lingo, can get a little exhausting and occasionally frustrating.  Our skydiving instructors are not only masters in their skills at training the students, but a large part of their task is to mentor their students through the entirety of the course.  Each student needs a different kind of support and attention to draw out the best that they can do.

With this article, we hope that future skydiving students can use it as a guide on what to expect during their AFF course, making them familiar with most of the aspects of the course to get the most out of their experience.

So, what does it really take to be able to offer this transformation?

Before you get started
Safety comes first. We mean it.

Our company has more than 25 years of experience in the skydive industry. We can say that we have seen it all, and when we say that safety comes first, we mean it.

We are proudly certified to make you gain your British (BPA) or American (USPA) skydiving license. We have built a very strong reputation over the years and our goal is to maintain this for all the years to come.

Anybody who gets started in our sport have some doubts about how things can go, and rightfully so. Skydiving is an extreme, but safe sport, and we are responsible to take all the necessary measures to make our students be as safe as possible. Any learning curve improves with a higher level of comfort of the students, and we make this a priority for them. We strive to convert nervousness into confidence.

Weather conditions and experienced instructors are essential to provide safety to students. At Skydive Spain you will find that both factors provide one of the best odds in the market to make you a licensed skydiver in a very short period of time.

Get familiar with the basic lingo before you get here

You will notice that once you get to a skydiving centre for the first time, you will start hearing some words that may be unfamiliar. Take this opportunity to start getting comfortable with our lingo:

  • Drop zone (DZ): This is basically the skydiving centre where you’ll make skydiving. It´s mainly consists of a huge grassy field and some aircraft hangars.
  • Ground school: 6 hours’ classroom training to be completed prior to start jumping.
  • Jumpsuit: A full body suit that you wear over your clothes when you go skydiving.
  • Freefall: The most exciting part of your jump, falling through the sky till it´s time to open your parachute.
  • Canopy: The term used for the parachute above your head.
  • Rig: “Backpack” where the canopy is placed properly packed.
  • Altimeter: Instrument used to measure the altitude of an object above the ground. It is worn on your wrist.
  • AFF Levels: First set of jumps where the student jumps along with two AFF instructors who will assist during freefall.
  • Hop ‘n’ Pop: Low altitude jump performed after successfully completing the first 7 levels.
  • Consolidation jumps (consols): Solo jumps performed after all the level jumps have been successfully completed.
  • Dornier G92: Our awesome skydiving aircraft. Top of the line in our industry and very popular.
  • “Tortilla de patatas”: Not a skydiving related term, but we strongly recommend this typical Spanish dish! 🙂
Nervousness? It is good and natural

If you are a bit worried about getting nervous while you are reading all of this, that’s very natural place to be. We even encourage you to be there! Here is what most students go through in their AFF journey:

  • Stage 1: Arrival – Getting to our dropzone with a pinch of nerves is quite common, keen to know everything all at once.
  • Stage 2: Between level jumps – Overwhelmed. Going through the ground school and performing the first level jumps can be mentally challenging. It’s completely normal.
  • Stage 3: Last levels and consolidation jumps – I am the king/queen of the world!! Being overwhelmed pays off right away.

This is of course a generalisation which doesn’t apply to everybody, but our point is that is completely OK to feel nervous and insecure while making the decision of taking the AFF course and the first couple of days after you get here.

We have your back. Always.

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Structure of the AFF Course
Ground training

The AFF course starts off with a classroom theoretical session of 6 hours. During this training, students go through orientation of the DZ, landing area and their equipment, the instructions of how to perform their jumps and fly their canopy, and all emergency procedures required to stay safe.

All the information seen during the ground school may look like a hurdle to overcome at first, but little by little, performing the first jumps with the close guidance of our instructors, everything begins to look a lot clearer. Needless to say, staying focused during the lectures and various practical classes and asking questions during the ground training, will make your whole AFF experience more successful and enjoyable.

AFF Tandem & level jumps (1-8)

After completion of your ground training, students are ready to take on their AFF tandem skydive.

The AFF tandem skydive is very different than a regular tandem. While the student has the opportunity to take their first skydiving attached to an instructor, which gives a great sense of security for first timers, all aspects of the skydive will be linked to the training you have just taken on the ground; gearing up, boarding the aircraft, during the aircraft’s ascent to altitude, exit, free fall manoeuvres, altitude awareness, opening of the parachute, flying the canopy according to skills learned and preparation for landing.

For those students who have already experienced a regular tandem skydive in the past, the AFF Tandem is an invaluable learning tool to accomplish before attempting the AFF Level One skydive.  All our students agree, it really opens their eyes to what they need to prepare for on their skydives.

Students then get started with their Level Jumps, normally the day after the ground school. These jumps are designed to introduce the basic practical concepts of skydiving while enhancing the confidence of the student.

Levels 1 through 3 are perform with 2 instructors alongside, while levels 4 through 7 are supported by one instructor, before, during and after each jump. The student develops capabilities progressively through the different levels until they reach the level 8, which is a low altitude exit executed solo, under the supervision of an instructor. This level is known as “Hop ‘n’ Pop!”

In order to pass each AFF Level, it is necessary to satisfy all the key requirements involved with safety aspects, freefall manoeuvres, canopy flying.  These key requirements will be made clear to you before each skydive.  What happens if you do not satisfy them..?  A repeat jump of that level is necessary in order to prove the skills called for.  It is possible that more than one repeat jump of the same level is needed until the instructor has witnessed all the key requirements and he is confident the student is ready to advance. Although there has to be a cost to the repeat jumps, rest assured that our instructors will do their very best via de-briefing and ground training sessions to have you as prepared as possible for your next skydive, it it never our desire to see a student stuck on any particular level.  Everyone is different and their path to get to the completion of the skydiving course are unique.

All the AFF level jumps, are filmed by the instructor so he can review each jump on the ground in order to provide constructive feedback and points for improvement to the student.

Consolidation jumps. The path to obtain your skydiving license.

After successful completion of the 8 AFF levels, there is a set of jumps that enables students to reach the minimum requirements to apply for an international skydiving license.

These consolidation jumps are performed “solo”, under the supervision of an instructor in the aircraft.

Skydive Spain provides instructors certified by the British Parachute Association (BPA) and United States Parachute Association (USPA) to take students to their desired skydiving certification. You can find all the necessary requirements to be able to achieve both skydiving licenses here.

We provide different AFF courses packages, tailored to meet the needs of our students depending on their goals and availability.

What sets Skydive Spain apart

Being a top Skydiving School takes a lot of work, commitment, empathy and love for our sport. Here is what makes Skydive Spain’s AFF School a great place to start your path on the wonderful world of skydiving:

What some of our students say about our Skydiving course
Still have questions? We understand!

Most people´s minds start popping out questions when they face the possibility of taking an AFF course to become a skydiver. If you have any, no matter how strange you think it might be, please don´t hesitate to contact us. Our booking office team is here to help with in any way they can: info@skydivespain.com or (+34) 955.766.056.

We hope that this article helps you understand the nature of the AFF course. Deciding to take the AFF course is something that shouldn´t be taken lightly. The are many factors to be taken into account as we have shown you in this article. So we encourage you to do some research if you need to and ask all the questions that you may have. Our Skydiving School is here to serve you if you need us.

Wherever you decide to take your skydiving course, we wish you the best and we welcome you to the incredible sport of Skydiving.

Blue skies!

The Skydive Spain team

AFF CourseAFF Course Residential

Below you can watch a video where you will be able to see some of our instructors and students in action.

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