Not all skydiving centers offer instruction in all of the training methods, and this could be for any number of reasons. The availability of instructors and equipment, the type of aircraft, etc. None of the instructional methods are substantially safer or better than any of the others. It depends mostly on how they are applied and how well they suit a particular student.

Personal Requirements

Skydivers must be at least 18 years old, no exceptions. Weight limits are 200 to 240 pounds depending on the type of skydive.

AFF

Price range for first jump: $290-$325

Subsequent jumps decrease in price to $250-$100 depending on the level of instruction and the number of instructors required

The AFF method (AFF stands for Accelerated Free Fall, accelerated means accelerated learning) consists of a Ground School and first skydive. This course teaches you all about your parachute including how to steer it, land it, and what to do in the rare event of some type of problem with it. You will exit anywhere from 10,000 to 13,000 feet, and will be accompanied by one or two instructors that will be holding on to you. During the freefall they will be helping you learn to relax, (and on subsequent jumps to maneuver your body and learn to skydive by yourself.) You will freefall down to about 5000 feet and will pull your ripcord, at which point your instructor(s) will release you to continue your jump by yourself. You will be given parachute steering advice from an instructor on the ground with a radio. You will be debriefed by your instructor and your performance will be critiqued and recorded in a logbook, which you must bring for your subsequent jumps. You will also be given a first jump certificate.

This method is instructor intensive, therefore it is usually the most expensive method for most of the jumps. However, the learning can indeed be "accelerated" because of the amount of freefall time and the presense of an instructor in freefall.

Time required

Ground School: 4-6 hours

First jump: 1-2 hours
(First jump normally follows Ground School)

Time required for subsequent jumps: 1-3 hours

Static Line/IAD

Price range for first jump: $160-$190

Subsequent jumps decrease in price to about $60

The Static Line (or IAD which stands for Instructor Assisted Deployment, a minor variation of this method) consists of a Ground School and first skydive. This course teaches you all about your parachute including how to steer it, land it, and what to do in the rare event of some type of problem with it. You will exit at about 4000 feet and the parachute will be deployed as you fall away from the airplane. You will be given parachute steering advice from an instructor on the ground with a radio. You will be debriefed by your instructor and your performance will be critiqued and recorded in a logbook, which you must bring for your subsequent jumps. You will also be given a first jump certificate.

This method is the least instructor intensive, therefore subsequent jumps are the least expensive of all the instructional methods.

Time required

Ground School: 4-6 hours

First jump: 0-1 hours
(First jump normally follows Ground School)

Time required for subsequent jumps: 0-2 hours

Tandem

Price range for first jump: $200-$250

Subsequent jumps cost nearly as much

The Tandem method is where you and your instructor are both attached to the same parachute system and complete the entire jump together. Because the instructor is there to handle any problems that might occur with the parachute, you need not be trained very much in this area. This means that Tandem training can be done in a short time. You will exit anywhere from 10,000 to 13,000 feet and pull the ripcord at 5000-6000 feet.

Tandem jumps have, for the most part, become carnival rides, with little if any instruction. The amount of training that you actually receive for a Tandem skydive can vary widely among different skydiving operations, and even among different instructors.

Time required

Ground School: About 1 hour

First jump: 1-2 hours
(First jump normally follows Ground School)

Time required for subsequent jumps: 1-3 hours

Hybrid Tandem/AFF

Price range varies

Hybrid Tandem/AFF training is available for those Tandem students who have used their Tandem jumps as training, and have successfully performed a number of assigned tasks. They can then enter the AFF training program at an advanced position after having completed a Ground School.

Time required

Same as Tandem/AFF jumps

Video and Photos
of your skydive

Price range: $50-$125 depending on training method

Subsequent video/photos usually cost as much

Video and/or Photos are usually available for your skydive if scheduled at the same time as your skydive. For freefall skydives like AFF and Tandem, a skydiving videographer/photographer can go on your skydive and record the entire freefall, and also include nearly everything from your gearing up to your landing. Instructors for Static Line and IAD can often take video from their helmet mounted cameras.

Parachute St. Louis provides skydiving instruction for the metro St. Louis area, as well as skydiving in Missouri, and skydiving in Illinois.

log file