In U.S., after you completed AFF First Jump, you can decide whether or not to move on with the USPA (United States Parachute Association) “A” license AFF training, starting from Category A up to Category H (8 levels). When you complete the training program in all categories, you are eligible for United States Parachute Association “A” license.
Each AFF school carries out the AFF training program slightly differently from one another. To give you an idea what you will be expected to learn in each category, let’s take a look at one example of a typical AFF training program. Note: If you’re don’t like to read, scroll down and watch the video available at the bottom of the screen.
Category A — you will have 30 minutes to review the same procedures you’ve learned from the AFF First Jump, followed by the actual AFF jump. At approximately 13,000 ft Above Ground Level (AGL), you will exit the airplane with two instructors holding your harness. During the freefall, you are required to respond to your instructor’s hand signals to adjust your body position, check your altimeter and practice deploying your parachute before deploying it for real. You will continue freefall down to 5,500 ft where you will deploy your parachute, be on your own to continue flying your parachute and land on the ground with radio instruction help.
Category B — you will learn to refine your body position in the sky. This skydive is almost identical to the AFF Category A skydive. The difference is when the instructors are confident that you are relatively stable in the air, one of them may release you for a little while and then hold on to your harness again and watch you deploying your parachute.
Category C — you will follow the similar routines as in Category A and B, your instructors will still hold on to your harness as you jump from the airplane, but both instructors will release you from their grips once you are balanced to see how well you maintain forward motion and stability. This will be the first time you are in free fall with no one “holding” on to you!
Category D — you will be accompanied by just one instructor. After you are stable in freefall, you will be released to practice 90 degree turns in both direction.
Category E — you will be accompanied by just one instructor. You will practice turning a full 360 degrees in both directions. You will gain the basic skills required to turn around in freefall.
Category F — you will be accompanied by just one instructor. You will perform a front loop, which is similar to forward somersault. You will also practice tracking, which is a rapid forward movement to create a distance between you and other skydivers.
Category G — you will be accompanied by just one instructor. You will perform a back loop, which is similar to backward somersault.
Category H — you will do your first solo jump. You will be entirely on your own from the moment you get out the aircraft, get stable, and deploy your parachute. The purpose of this jump is to give you a taste of what it feels like to get out of a plane and perform a solo AFF jump.
On each level, your instructors will go over your skydive practice on a video with you and give you some constructive feedback. Assuming they are happy with your progress, you will then be excelled to the next level.
Here is a video of AFF training recorded in Verona, Italy:
Trivia Question: Why did I choose AFF jump instead of Tandem?
Some people just want to take a ride with the jumpmaster while skydiving. My philosophy was if something happened to me, I did not want to have to blame it to other people. If something happened to me because of other people’s fault or parachute failure; then, I would not be able to rest in peace. With that principle in mind, AFF is my choice; I could take control of my life in my own hand, and with the help of jumpmasters, I hope to give the best I can. What’s your take? =) At least, that was the drive of my decision back then.