Last Thursday, 22-October, a very good friend and I went over to Skydive New England where we had signed up to take the AFF (accelerated free fall course). This course would give the training required to skydive without going tandem. No other students were in our class that day, therefore we were able to do the entire curriculum in just over 5 hours. During the course, our instructor, Liz, told us that she was “kinda new” to skydiving which immediately caused a reaction from us. Turns out she had just over 10,000 recorded jumps.
Level 1 of AFF covered
- Exit Count
- Circle of Awareness (CoA)
- Practice Touches (you gotta do 3 of them!)
- Practice your CoA every 3-5 seconds
- pull your ripcord at 6000 ft
- Landing Approach
- Circle of Awareness
- Practice Pulls
- Check Arms
- Legs Out
- Legs In
- Legs Together
- Hips Down
Unfortunately, the weather was not cooperating with us after class as it was too windy therefore we had to post-pone the jump to another day.
The worst part of this was not that we didn’t have a chance to jump that day. It was the thought of all the malfunction drills going through our head. Twisted lines, failed opening of your parachute, etc. Thankfully, we didn’t have to wait long before our jump.
I called, the weather was good and they were going up!
Scott and I arrived at the airfield around 11.30am.
We suited up with the help of the two instructors each of us had and we walked through the drills and hand signals once again. We continued to go over the basics until we reached 11,000 ft.
Once we were at 14,000 ft I was the third person to jump out; Scott my buddy was second. The experience was superb, nothing like anything I had experienced before. No words, pictures, videos, etc. could ever explain or captivate the experience. It was pure.
When I jumped (you actually don’t jump, you just fall out) out, I remember very little. I remember being tossed around and seeing the earth and sky. Thinking back, I should have gone to a wind tunnel to experience the feeling of free fall. Anyway, I swear due to the adrenaline in my body that I blacked out for a moment. Somehow though, I checked the horizon, managed to get my body into place and kept performing my CoA exercises. That said, I didn’t start this until I was at 9000 ft, so that means for 5000 feet I was not really aware of what was happening. Of course once I made that first check, I performed it every 1000 ft until I was at 6000.
Before I knew it, I was at 6000 ft and had to pull the ripcord. I had failed to do any of my practice touches (the instructors were giving my the hand signal but I was overwhelmed and had forgotten what that one hand signal meant), however I managed to find it on my first attempt and pulled it.
Once my parachute deployed, it was smooth sailing. I broke out in laughter due to the intensity of the entire process…I could feel every atom in my body.
I landed perfectly, which was another aspect that they cannot train you fully on, while you are on the ground.
Overall, it was an awesome experience. I did not pass my Level 1 as I failed to do my practice touches and I didn’t check my altimeter and do my CoA for the first 5000 ft; however seeing that it was my first time to go out of a plane (I never had been tandem even) I felt I had accomplished a significant goal.
What was Scott’s experience? Check it out…