“How do you describe your first jump?” I was asked.
“A perfect blend of sheer terror combined with complete peace.” Was the only response I could find that fit what had just occurred.
I was fortunate enough that the winds had subsided last Friday, and I was able to make the first static line jump of my progression. And like I said, it was the perfect blend of both terror and beauty. For those of you unaccustomed to the wonderful world of skydiving, it’s hard to put into words exactly what a canopy ride is like. At first, it’s completely blissful – the loud sounds of freefall wind and aircraft engine have long since faded out, and all you can hear is your parachute gently fluttering in the air, as it floats down towards the earth. I laughed, giggled as you may say, as I discovered how easily I could point myself where I wanted to go. I could see everything; a three mile wide lake was like a puddle from here. Cars were toys that seemed to move so slow on roads stretched so thin. Then the roads got bigger, the lakes wider, and I realized I was quickly coming back to the world I only recently left. Then it was terrifying.
“What’s my heading? Where should I start my landing pattern? Which way is the wind coming from again, north-northwest? Where’s that? Wait the runway points which direction?”
Then I realized that Corra, my jumpmaster, was still with me via radio, and talked me down the entire rest of the journey. Like I said, pure bliss, and completely terrifying – and I can’t wait to do it again.
So far I’m in love with the Static Line Progression. I may not have gotten to freefall yet, but learning to freefall correctly should come easier, because I’ll already have some canopy flying experience – compared to an AFF program, where I would be free-falling and piloting my parachute on the same jump.
Tomorrow, I get to jump again. If the weather holds out as long as it is supposed to, I’ll be able to begin freefall. After a few solo free-fall jumps, I’ll be able to better compare the two programs. One thing I see that attracts people to AFF is that you do get free-fall right away. I realize that I’m sort of the static line exception – paying for all of my jumps at once allows me to basically jump as much as I can, where someone paying for each jump individually would want the most experience for the money up front. So the way I see it, if you saved the money and are ready to begin your skydiving license, go with the static line program if it’s available. It’s cheaper, and if you’re dedicated you can be freefalling a few days after you start the program. If you’re paying by jump, AFF gets you the biggest bang for your buck, right away.
What do you guys think? AFF or S/L? Either way, don’t just do one jump and quit, get you license! Blue skies.