To become a certified skydiver in South Africa, there are two different training programmes to choose from, and here at Skydive Mossel Bay, we offer both. We are frequently asked by prospective students what the differences are between the two courses, how much a skydiving certification is going to cost them, and which they should ultimately sign up for. Let’s try to answer some of those questions right here!
‘Static Line’ refers to a length of strong material that attaches you to the aircraft that you jump from. As you fall away this attachment opens your parachute automatically. Automatic opening happens for the first three jumps as you get the hang of exiting the aircraft, then for the following jumps (up to 16) you progress through increasing amounts of freefall.
AFF is an acronym for Accelerated Free Fall. On the AFF course, you jump from full altitude right from the start with instructors hanging onto you. AFF has ten levels. From one to three you jump with two instructors. Four to seven you will be accompanied by one. Eight through ten you are jumping solo.
Modern parachuting was developed by military types as a way of putting people into places without having to land aeroplanes there. Like lots of other technologies, these methods and materials crossed over to civilian use, and while military parachuting and sport skydiving are quite different things, strong connections remain.
The AFF training program was developed in conjunction with the growth of sport skydiving as a way to teach new skydivers more skills quicker, particularly the super fun freefall part – hence the name, “Accelerated Free Fall.”
On static line courses, the instructor stays in the plane and sends the students out one after the other – very useful when you have a lot of army grunts to send on their way and not many instructors. For AFF you need two instructors to jump with each student for their first few jumps – which can make things logistically difficult, especially for smaller skydiving operations.
The short version of things is that static line training is a bit cheaper because you don’t pay for instructors to jump with you in freefall. AFF training is a bit more expensive overall because, while skydiving instructors do what they do because they love to fly and love to teach, they still gotta eat.
Getting your skydiving license through the static line program is a legit way to do it and will ultimately get you to the same place as AFF – you just invest in training for the equivalent freefall skills a little further down the line.
Although it is not difficult to learn to skydive, it can be challenging and there is a chance that at some point you will need to repeat something in order to nail it. Both of the following things are worth remembering:
We run both courses and which course to take is up to you. Although getting certified through AFF costs a bit more right off the bat, completing the AFF program gives you deeper and more intensive training for the freefall element of your jumps – something you will be looking to develop as soon as you can after earning your license. With that complete, the doorways to many awesome zoomy adventures start to open.
Static line jumps can give you slightly better odds with the weather, as sometimes everything will be ok to go jump except for cloud cover that is too low for a full freefall – excluding AFF jumps and keeping you on the ground.
Smaller dropzones are sometimes limited to only offering static line courses as they do not have enough suitably qualified instructors on staff to operate an AFF program. Skydive Mossel Bay is a big enough skydiving facility to offer both courses all the time.
AFF was indeed created as an improved way for civilians to learn sport skydiving. It has been tried tested, refined all around the world, and is considered the best way to get going in the sport.
However, due to its practicality and utility, static line training is still run in many places. While static line training is slightly more affordable from the outset, you will very soon be looking to catch up with the skills you need in freefall as you move on.
The reason we offer both is to give our students as much choice and scope to learn in the way they feel is best for them.
Becoming a certified skydiver in South Africa is a significant investment of time and money, but no matter which training course you choose, you’re opening the door to life-changing experiences and levels of awesomeness you don’t get from anything else. If you are in a position to choose which course to pursue and have access to an operation like Skydive Mossel Bay that can offer it, sign up for AFF. Jumping solo with a parachute is awesome no matter how you start – but nothing can compare to the thrill of a full freefall jump the very first time you go up there.