AFF Graduation!

It’s Skydiving Saturday at Logos con carne! I’m working on the upcoming TV Tuesday, so this weekend I’m going to coast a bit with some easy posts and archive excavations.

It’s also a good time to enjoy the end of lazy summer before we go back to school. After all, Logos CC is also about philosophy and computers and science (oh, my).

There are many meaty topics on the grill for later, but for now it’s free fall time!

This first bit was a post to the USENET group, rec.skydiving back on March, 1998. It’s about when I graduated from Accelerated Free Fall (AFF) class, which is one of the programs designed to teach you how to skydive. The August previous, my girlfriend (my fiancée when I wrote the post) and I had made our first and second skydives together. We both had loved it so much that we immediately signed up for AFF class.

From August 1997 to March 1998 makes it sound like a semester-length class, but in reality AFF can be passed in seven lessons and seven jumps. (Winter got in the way.) Each jump adds skills learned in the lesson. These comprise the seven levels of AFF. After that (and a written test), you’ve been born; you are a baby skydiver!

Each AFF jump is done with at least one instructor jumping with you, two at first and one on later jumps. Unlike Tandem jumps, your instructors are not attached to you! They’re close enough to make sure you deploy your chute, but you are on your own in making sure it deploys successfully (and cutting away if not). You must also fly to the landing zone and land successfully. (You do have a radio they use to help talk you in.)

You must successfully demonstrate the class lesson on the jump to pass the level. If you don’t, you have to take the jump again. Once you pass all seven levels, then there is a written test you take to obtain your “A” license. This entitles you to make ordinary jumps at any Drop Zone (DZ).

There is actually another qualification: to jump you must be current. That is, you must have jumped in the last 90 days. (All your jumps are recorded in your log book, which you carry with you.) If more time has passed, you need take a currency jump with a licensed skydiver, and that jump is signed in your log book by that skydiver. This does provide a problem in places with winter. Some choose to jump in the freezing cold; others choose to regain their currency later.

Anyway, below is that (unedited) USENET post (no font effects back then—no bold, no italics—hence the ALL CAPS). Two things helpful to know: skydivers don’t speak of doing something for the first time (like how stage actors never say “good luck,” but “break a leg!”), and the traditional gift for just about any good favor is a case of beer or a bottle of “something.”

Another AFF Graduate!!


Well, I finally did it! I passed AFF and am no longer a “student”!! It took 13 jumps and more money than I want to think about yet (or ever), but what an incredible rush!

The next time I jump out of a plane, I’ll be all on my own (SCARY!).

I passed last Saturday (4/18), and what a day it was. Lots of firsts for me that day. No, wait, wait, lots of “pre-seconds” for me…

Pre-second time I’ve made four jumps in one day. Pre-second (and second) time I’ve jumped out of an airplane with no one holding on to me. Pre-second (and second) time I’ve managed to stand up on landing (instead of landing on my butt!). Pre-second time I’ve done back loops in the air!! (what a thrill THOSE were!!). Pre-second time I’ve gotten in a jump plane with ZERO anxiety and wanted 100% to jump out of the thing without wishing JUST A LITTLE the weather would change and prevent the jump.

I never dreamed I would pass Saturday, so it was quite a rush to have it happen. It’s like it happened all at once after so long (I started last August then had to stop for ol’ man winter). On my four jumps I flunked L5 (again!), then passed, then totally, completely ACED L6 and then, for a grand finale, passed L7 pretty okay (need to work on my tracking).

But, after sooooo much effort and time and money, it’s on the verge of becoming PURE fun and excitement!

I want to, also, thank everyone on this newsgroup. I’ve been a dedicated lurker since last August (my company frowns on non-business-related posts so I bopped over to Deja News to post this), and I have really enjoyed reading your posts. I’ve learned an awful lot from you guys, so THANKS!!

And kudos to Skydive Hutchinson, Minnesota, for a great, wonderful, very, very professional and friendly DZ. The owners, Tim and Rose are the best. They’ve made me feel at home since my first tandem last August, and now I’m finally becoming one of the “family”. You guys are incredible!

So, to my fellow rec.skydiving friends, here’s a case for you…nah, make that TWO cases of nice brown imported bottles…DRINK UP!!:

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About Wyrd Smythe

The canonical fool on the hill watching the sunset and the rotation of the planet and thinking what he imagines are large thoughts. View all posts by Wyrd Smythe

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