The Biggest Differences Between Traditional Skydiving Training And Accelerated Free Fall

AFF, or accelerated free fall, is a type of skydiving training. It was developed in the military to quickly teach troops how to skydive when they had never skydived before. Now, just about anyone can do it, so long as you have a clear bill of health from your doctor. AFF is very different from traditional skydiving training. Here are the biggest differences:


If you take group swimming lessons, learning how to swim costs less than if you take private lessons. The same holds true for skydiving. In the case of AFF, you dive with two or more licensed, trained, and highly experienced skydivers. It is essentially a private lesson in skydiving because no other beginner diver dives with you. It is just you and your instructors. Hence, the cost is going to be greater than traditional skydiving lessons.

Instructor-Student Ratio

In traditional skydiving, you have to perform several tandem dives. This means that you start training with an instructor strapped to your back for several dives. This is also the way most people experience a dive for the very first time, and then quit once they have dived just that once. As many students that dive on one day is the same number of instructors diving as well. 

In AFF, you are diving with two or more instructors because you have never dived before. You are on an "accelerated" diving program because you are not diving, nor have you ever dived, tandem. The instructors are there to guide you through a dive, checking your personal safety, and teaching you hand signals that are used by divers in the air. They then use those signals to tell you when to pull the parachute cord. If you cannot pull the cord, or fail to pull it when you should, an instructor pulls it for you. The dive, and the training, are only successful if you complete every step of the dive as expected. 

Earning Your Diving Certificate

If you go through all tandem dives, static line dives, and free fall independent dives as arranged by your skydiving instructor in traditional skydiving lessons, you earn your diving certificate, which allows you to skydive independently. In AFF, one successful dive as outlined by your instructors is all you need to get your certificate. However, most people want the baby-step approach to learning this extreme sport as it builds confidence in one's ability to dive.