Solo Skydive License
Something or someone led you to the edge of the airplane that first time. That experience had a profound effect: it confirmed a deep rooted desire for flight, it piqued your curiosity to answer what else is possible, it awoke a new part of you. You’ve taste human flight, and now you have a ravenous appetite for more.
While a tandem jump is the perfect introduction to skydiving, it only provides a thin slice of the entire skydiving experience. If you think about skydiving like an iceberg, a tandem is the visible, above the surface part. It’s gorgeous, magical and breathtaking but relatively speaking it’s a superficial experience. What you see or know is only a fraction of what you can learn and understand.
The Solo License program, known as Accelerated Freefall (AFF), enables unhindered human flight with you fully in control, in freefall and parachute flight. You’ll learn the practical, physical skills of using your body to control human flight, the theory and practical application of parachute flight and the technical aspects of skydiving equipment. And at the same time, you’ll get a deeper understanding of the skydiver culture and lifestyle.
The AFF program is known as a “harness hold” student training program. That means that during your jumps, unlike a tandem jump, you’ll wear your own parachute system, deploy that parachute system at the proper altitude and fly your parachute safely back to the ground. But you’re most certainly not on your own. Two instructors fly with you on the jumps, securing a grip on each side of your harness from inside the airplane until you deploy your main parachute. During exit and freefall they are with to ensure stability and altitude awareness, and provide in air coaching and skill analysis.
Throughout AFF, ownership of safety, skills development and autonomy are increasingly transferred to the student. The program is designed to make you a safe, competent, solo skydiver, able to make solo jumps at any skydive center in the world. We consider it a license to learn and continue your path to become a rock star flyer, a friend and maybe some day an instructor.
The Accelerated Freefall “AFF” Program
Calgary Skydive uses the Accelerated Freefall (AFF) program for teaching student skydivers, and ensuring they earn a solo license in the most efficient and rapid learning environment. In partnership with our sister company Edmonton Skydive, which has the country’s largest student training program, we’ve created our own advanced version of AFF.
While the Canada Sport Parachute Association model covers the very basics required to acquire a solo license, our model also incorporates further skills development, teaching techniques and requirements from programs around the world, including the United States, Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom. This provides the best opportunity to become more skilled, knowledgeable and safe in a much shorter amount of time.
At Calgary Skydive, AFF is a two phase, eight level program. There are a minimum of eight jumps. During each level a specific curriculum of freefall skills development, parachute flight theory and equipment is covered with corresponding criteria to be completed in the air and on the ground.
Phase I begins with Ground School and includes Levels 1-5. Ground School provides the fundamental basics required prior to performing a solo skydive. It covers knowledge on how the equipment operates, proper aircraft exit techniques, freefall hand signals, freefall body position, deployment technique, emergency procedures, parachute controls, performing wind assessments and how to fly a parachute landing pattern. The ground school is a combination of theory and practical exercises. It typically requires about 6 hours.
Levels 1-2 focus on stable exits, stable freefall, altitude awareness and focus heavily on practicing and executing proper, stable parachute deployment body position. During these levels, two instructors will exit the airplane holding each side of the harness of your parachute system to assist in stability, and coach and assess in freefall. Students are taught how to properly fly their parachutes to the landing area and land safely. During these early levels, instructors do have back-up ground-to-air radios to provide coaching during parachute descent.
In Levels 3-5 we focus on hover control, turns and instability recovery. By Level 3, the jumps are one-on-one with a single instructor. More advanced freefall and parachute skills and tasks are performed. Level 3 or 4 is a “release” jump in which the instructor removes their grip on the student to allow them to fly stable unassisted. By Level 5, the student is performing an unlinked exit and the entire freefall is a full release, or “no instructor grip” jump. During all of these levels, you’ll also be tasked with a variety of parachute drills to help you understand the full range of performance of the parachute.
After completion of Level 5, the student moves to Phase II. While Phase I focused on more, stable freefall and basic parachute flight, Phase II levels add some additional variables designed to further improve freefall and parachute skills. By the end of Phase I, students are no longer using an ground to air assistance for parachute landings.
Level 6 is always a favourite! It involves an intentional unstable exit in which your instructor literally tosses you out of the airplane (we’re a fan of the “This is Sparta” foot push technique) to induce multiple tumbles and rolls. You’ll utilize the skills you’ve acquired in previous levels to achieve stability and continue on with your jump.
Level 7 is the only jump in the program specifically designed with the intention to exit from a lower altitude. During this jump, you’ll exit from 5000’ above the ground, perform a stable exit and open your parachute within seven seconds. The purpose of this jump to simulate an emergency exit from an airplane. During the course you’ll learn about freefall acceleration, freefall time and distance traveled during each second of freefall; a concept that will explain that seven seconds is significantly more time than is required to safely deploy your parachute from 5000’.
And finally, Level 8 is the “Solo Checkout Jump”. At this point you’ve complete all of the requirements in the AFF course. In order to acquire your Solo License, you must complete and pass this jump. Essentially, you must demonstrate to your instructor that you can plan a safe jump, and do all of the necessary tasks inflight, in freefall and during parachute descent to be a safe solo jumper.
Upon successfully completion of Level 8, you must pass the Solo Certificate exam and file a membership to the Canadian Sport Parachute Association to finalize your application and receive your Solo license.
AFF Program Costs
|Level||Phase I – Objectives||Price|
|Ground School||Equipment, In Flight, Freefall, Aircraft Safety, Parachute Patterns, Landing Techniques, Emergency Procedures||$195|
|Level 1||Body Position, Stable Exit, Altitude Awareness, Main Deployment||$385|
|Level 2||Body Position, Delta Dive, 90 Degree Turns||$385|
|Level 3||Unlinked Exit, 180 Degree Turns, Heading Maintenance||$240|
|Level 4||Unlinked Exit, Released Stable Freefall, Hover Control||$240|
|Level 5||Unlinked Exit, Figure 8 Turns||$240|
|Phase I – Total Price||$1685|
|Phase I – Prepaid Price||$1535|
|Level||Phase II – Objectives||Price|
|Level 6||Unstable Exit, Turns, Forward Movement, Slow/Fast Fall||$240|
|Level 7||Five (5) Second Delay from 5,000′||$125|
|Level 8||Solo Checkout Jump||$165|
|Level 9||Graduation Jump||$145|
|Phase II – Total Price||$675|
|Phase II – Prepaid Price||$579|
Purpose Built Student Training Center
Calgary Skydive is one of the few skydive centers in the country that was specifically built as a student training center. For more than 10 years, the dropzone trained, housed and feed more than 500 students every year. The dropzone was built to provide efficient training for a large amount of student skydivers and to the extremely high standard of the British military.
While the focus of the skydive center has shifted solely to sport skydiving, we are the benefactors of the largest collection of high-end student training aids and tools. The dropzone has a large, wide open, flat landing area, ideal of students and junior jumpers.
The facilities also include a 60 bed hostel complete with a bar, entertainment area, commercial kitchen and restaurant. Beds are available at a nightly, weekly or monthly rate. And the restaurant and bar is open during jumping operations.