Learn to skydive solo!
So you want to learn how to skydive solo. Great! You're in the right place. This page outlines how our program works and what you can expect during your training jumps. A lot of it may seem confusing so we will do our best to lay everything out in detail to explain the process. A lot more of it will make sense once you start the program.
Des Moines skydivers utilizes a training program called Accelerated Freefall (AFF). This training discipline is where certified instructors accompany you in freefall, holding onto your harness at first while the you demonstrates certain skills. It can be compared to learning to ride a bike with training wheels. This is the quickest, most effective and common training method used by USPA drop zones in the US. It is a eight step, seven jump course.
How does AFF work? (see photo)
The student exits the aircraft with two USPA AFF Instructors holding onto the student’s parachute harness and they freefall together for 30 to 50 seconds depending on jump altitude, typically 10,000 to 13,000 feet. Instructors maintain grip on the student's harness to provide in-air instruction and assist with stability if necessary. The student opens his/her own parachute by 4,000 feet and pilots it to the landing area.
What does the AFF program consist of?
In a nutshell; take the first jump course, make your AFF jumps, make your coach jumps and then you get your license. This next section is a breakdown of the AFF program and corresponding USPA Category jumps. Each step is required, in order, to complete the AFF program. Step #2 (Tandem jump - Category A) is not a required, although we recommend it, especially if you haven't ever skydived before.
Des Moines Skydivers AFF program:
Step 1: First Jump Course (FJC) - $150
This is a 4-6 hour classroom course to go over the basics of free fall, body position, canopy flight and emergency procedures - all required to skydive. Click the "NEXT PAGE button below to add your name to our FJC wait list and you will be contacted when the next one is scheduled!
Step 2: AFF Category A - Tandem Jump - $280 (Optional jump)
This isn't your standard tandem jump. For this jump you are wearing your own altimeter and it's you job to maintain stability, heading, altitude awareness, the ability to locate the deployment handle and to deploy at the proper altitude. This jump is not required, but highly recommended to familiarize yourself with canopy flight and landing patterns before you jump in the AFF program.
Step 3: AFF Category A - Two-Instructor jump - $250
Your category A jump focuses on stability, heading, maintaining altitude awareness and the ability to locate your deployment handle while remaining stable. This is your first jump wearing your own parachute. Price includes your own logbook and goggles.
Step 4: AFF Category B - Two-Instructor jump - $225
Your category B jump focuses on stability, heading, altitude awareness, maintaining stability while performing practice touches, forward movement and turns.
Step 5: AFF Category C1 - Two-Instructor jump - $225
Your category C1 jump focuses on stability, heading, altitude awareness, and maintaining stability while performing practice touches. Instructors release grips for solo hover control.
Step 6: AFF Category D1 - One-Instructor jump - $175
Your category D1 jump focuses on stability, heading, altitude awareness, and maintaining stability while performing practice touches. Instructor release grips once student is stable for solo hover control and solo 90 turns.
Step 7: AFF Category D2 - One-Instructor jump - $175
Your category D2 jump focuses on stability, heading, altitude awareness, and maintaining stability while deploying. Instructor release grips once student is stable for solo hover control and solo 180 and 360 turns.
Step 8: AFF Category E1 - One-Instructor jump - $175
Your category E1 jump focuses on stability, heading, altitude awareness, and maintaining stability while deploying. Student performs solo exit with no instructor grips and performs barrel rolls.
Step 9: AFF Category E2 - One-Instructor jump - $175
Your category E2 jump focuses on stability, heading, altitude awareness, and maintaining stability while deploying. Student performs solo exit with no instructor grips and performs front loop and back loop. Congratulations, you have graduated the AFF program! You aren't licensed yet but are released into "self-supervised" status.
After you successfully complete all eight steps above, you have graduated the AFF program and you are released into "self-supervised" status. This means that you are able to either jump by yourself or with a coach/instructor (You are not able to jump with other licensed skydivers until you are also licensed). To achieve your license you will need to complete the rest of your A-license progression card which includes completing certain skills in freefall and under canopy. These must be signed off by either a coach or instructor after they are successfully completed. Once your progression card is completely filled out (this can be done in as little as 25 total jumps) then you are now a licensed skydiver! Check out our recent A-License graduates!
How much does all of this cost?! Skydiving is an expensive sport but does get cheaper after you are licensed and have acquired all of your own gear. Since your training jumps are often spread out over time, the cost burden is not immediate or all at once. Below is a breakdown of typical costs associated with completing the AFF program and achieving your A-license.
The total cost of AFF training (FJC and 7 jumps) is $1,525. The total cost to obtain your skydiving license is dependent upon:
The number of jumps that are required to complete your progression card (some do-over jumps may be required)
Whether or not you are renting gear or using your own gear
Which aircraft you are jumping out of
Total cost to achieve your A-license is estimated to be around $2,500-$3,000.
Typical Skydiving Training Costs
First Jump Course + 7 AFF Jumps* - $1575
Log Book & Goggles - $25
Coached Skydives - 18 jumps* - $792-1,008
Gear Rental - 18 jumps* - $450
Cost per jump once licensed (using own gear) - $16-$28
*License can be achieved in as little as seven AFF jumps and 18 coached jumps. Pricing for coach jumps depends on aircraft. Gear rental not required if you own your own gear.
Should you complete your AFF program within 30 days from the date you took your FJC, you will recieve a $100 credit to your jumper account to be used towards jumps, gear rentals, or merchandise!
Now what? Want to sign up for an FJC? Have some more questions? Head on over the the next page to read through our FAQ's and request to be added to our FJC list!