What is Accelerated Freefall (AFF) Skydiving?
The Accelerated Freefall, or AFF training method was designed to quickly teach people to become skydivers and canopy pilots. Some people choose to make an AFF jump as their first jump rather than a tandem. The thrill of jumping from a plane and flying your own parachute can’t be matched.
For the first AFF jump, two USPA instructors hold onto the student until they deploy their parachute. Each subsequent jump builds on the previous jumps and teaches additional skills. Each student can progress at their own pace, although the USPA requires one jump per 30 days to stay current. If a student starts the AFF program, there is not a required number of jumps.
Demonstration Skydiving at Sporting & Celebratory Events
Demonstration skydiving, or “demos” for short, is where a highly skilled sky diving team performs a sky diving show for an audience.
Sporting events such as NASCAR, MLB, and College Football, use skydivers to bring in the American Flag to start the event. There are military demo teams and a few civilian teams that perform for sporting events around the country. The Golden Knights are a very well known military team that performs at many events around the country to help with recruiting efforts for the United States Army. One of the better know civilian demonstration skydiving teams is Aerial Adventures Inc. They perform at many NASCAR Races including the race at Richmond International Speedway.
The members of demo teams are very highly qualified skydivers; the best of the best. They will fly in a large American flags, game balls, and smoke as they land on a designated spot at a certain time. Landing in a stadium during the National Anthem is made more difficult due to the smaller landing area that most regular skydivers are used to. Most demo teams will jump from an altitude of around 5,000 feet. This enables the audience to see them as they leave the aircraft. Any altitude higher would make it difficult for people to see them in free fall. They will then open their parachute at an altitude of 3,000 feet, which is high enough to allow time for the American flag and smoke to be safely deployed. By the time they land at a certain time during the National Anthem, the audience is filled with excitement and pride. Seeing a demonstration skydive is definitely one to experience.
What is Free Flying Skydiving?
Most traditional skydives involve falling in a certain body position (stomach facing the ground, or “belly to earth”). A new way of enjoying the sky has started to take hold in the skydiving community. This method is called Free Flying. It was created by a skydiver named Olav Zipser in the late 1980s. Free Flying involves skydiving in any position other than a belly to earth, such as a vertical position with their feet or head first, or at any angle or position.
Free Flying involves a higher rate of descent due to less body surface being exposed to air friction. This means faster falling! While a regular skydive averages around 120 mph, a Free Flying skydive will reach speed of approximately 160 mph or more.
Before deploying their parachute, a free flyer must return to a belly position to slow their rate of descent. Opening a parachute at the speed of 160 mph is highly dangerous. The skydiving community is split between the different types of disciplines. Around half of the skydiving population still prefer the traditional, belly-to-earth jump, but the newer generation prefer the free flying style.
Sometimes, sky divers of both styles get together to perform a Hybrid Dive. This involves free flyers holding onto the belly flyers during free fall so they can fly together.