Solo Skydive License
Earn Your Wings: Inside the AFF Program
The Accelerated Freefall (AFF) program is a nine level, nine skydive program that culminates with you achieving all of the necessary requirements to acquire your Canadian Sport Parachute Association (CSPA) Solo license. This enables you to do solo skydives, without an instructor, anywhere in Canada and the United States.
Edmonton Skydive is a first jump, skydive operation specializing in tandem skydiving. We do all of our student training and licensing, advanced skydiver training and licensed skydivers at our sister operation, Alberta Skydive Central. It is centrally located between Calgary and Edmonton, near Innisfail, AB.
Alberta Skydive Central is one of the top student skydiving centers in Canada. During the past five years, our dropzones have produced the second most solo student skydivers in Canada. This is largely due to the success rate, and fun level, our students achieve with our program.
The AFF course begins with a full day of ground school. These are run at Alberta Skydive Central every Saturday morning and second Wednesday, typically starting from the first Saturday of May until the last Saturday of September. Sometimes there are changes to the schedule so we advise you to look specifically at the Alberta Skydive Central Accelerated Freefall course calendar (you can also book directly from there). You can book your AFF course at Alberta Skydive Central, get directions or find even more detailed information on the Accelerated Freefall solo license program.
The Alberta Skydive Central AFF program goes well beyond the basics. After all, it is an accelerated learning program. We’ve leveraged the best training materials that have been created around the skydiving world, and modified and enhanced them to fit into our custom made program. We’ll give you the high level basics of the AFF program here, but for a more detailed briefing on please visit the Alberta Skydive Central skydive school page.
Ranking For Solo Licenses
First Jump Courses/Season
The Accelerated Freefall “AFF” Program
The first part of the program involves in-classroom theory, on-ground practical freefall and parachute exercises, hands-on introduction to the parachute systems, accessories, airplanes and in-depth study of freefall techniques, emergency procedures, landing patterns, airport and surrounding terrain and weather assessments. This is typically the bulk of the day, ranging from 5-8 hours. After ground school is completed, you’ll have to successfully complete the first jump course exam. From there, it’s time to skydive! Our aim is to get you in the air at least once on that first day.
After completing the theory and on-ground practical exercises, it’s time to move to the sky! The program is an accelerated learning model in that you go to the top floor and get the maximum freefall on your level one jump. Two instructors will take a grip on you prior to jumping and maintain that grip until you open your parachute at the preplanned altitude. This type of instruction enables direct, in the moment feedback. We communicate through non-verbal means, using hand signals in freefall and a one-way radio system for parachute flight. For a detailed description of each level, visit Alberta Skydive Central’s Skydive School page.
If you want to get your license and progress at the fastest possibly rate, then Alberta Skydive Central’s AFF program is your best choice. Other schools use archaic, very gradual learning programs (make sure you’re doing an advance or accelerated freefall program), have smaller aircraft (which means less jump opportunities per day) and do not jump from the high altitudes that Alberta Skydive Central does (our jump altitude provides almost 60% more freefall which means more time in the air, more time to learn and develop skill and more time to get in-air coaching and perform the required freefall tasks).
You don’t need to be an extreme athlete to become a licensed skydiver. However, there are some very basic mandatory physical requirements that you must satisfy to begin AFF. You must be in reasonable physical condition, able to do short running bursts, have decent flexibility and able to jump from a short height (i.e. from a step or a few feet).
We are not able to do AFF with anyone under the age of 16 years old, and we do not recommend it for those beyond 55 years old (although we will do a personal assessment if desired). Weight limits also do apply and a little stricter than for tandem jumping. Females over 200 LB and males over 235 LB are not able to do AFF.
Unlike a tandem skydive, as an AFF student you will be the pilot in control of yourself in freefall and under parachute. And thus, any medical condition that could impact vision, hearing, balance or consciousness (and potentially others) will most likely exclude you from participating in the AFF program.
Some manageable and minor medical conditions may not preclude you from solo jumping. It is extremely important and imperative that you disclose any of your preexisting medical conditions. If you do have a condition but believe (or hope) you’ll still be able to enter the program, please call the Alberta Skydive Central dropzone.
Assuming you meet the physical requirements and do not possess any medical conditions that preclude you from solo skydiving, you will be able to start the ground school portion of AFF program at Alberta Skydive Central.
We do require a previous jump (either tandem, instructor assisted deployment or static line jump) within the last three years. In our decades of experience, we’ve found that student’s perform significantly better on their Level 1 jump if they have recently completed a skydive.
You can start ground school even without having jumped previously. During the lunch break or prior to the Level 1 jump, you can complete a tandem jump (please note that is not included in the AFF program).
The team at Alberta Skydive Central recommends that you enroll in the program when are able to commit at least 2-3 weekends, or 4-6 days, over the course of a couple of months. This typically provides enough time to complete the program (in rare cases in can be completed in a couple of days) given potential weather delays or possibly needing to repeat a level.
The learning curve in AFF is quite shallow, meaning you’ll progress at a rapid rate. Typically, the shorter amount of time between jumps equates to a faster progression. Additionally, there are currency requirements established by the Canadian Sport Parachuting Association for student skydivers. Students that go more than 60 days without a jump will need to redo ground school and/or potentially redo a previous level.
The Canadian Sport Parachute Associate (CSPA) has a program of licenses (Solo, A, B, C, D) with increasing skill and educational requirements to help progress from student to novice to intermediate skydiver. Each license has its own set of freefall and parachute skills, and technical knowledge that must be demonstrated. For each license obtained, the skydiver is able to participate in increasingly more challenging skydives. As with AFF, all skydive license training and coaching is done at our sister operation, Alberta Skydive Central.
With experience and training, you’ll rapidly develop a broader set of freefall and parachute skills. This enables you to jump in more challenging (but still within your skill) set of conditions. You’ll also be able to participate in larger formation skydives as well as different types of jumps (vertical flying, water landings, night jumps, etc), competitions, and along the way, qualify to participate in coach or instructor training sessions. There are so many disciplines in skydiving that you’ll always have something new to learn!
As your privileges grow hand in hand with the higher level of licenses you’ll acquire, so too will your ability to perform more advanced types of both freefall and parachute flight. While these advanced types of training have minimal requirements, they’re more about a minimum skill and knowledge level. So, if you started skydiving because you want to fly wingsuits, participate in large formation skydives, perform aerials, or get into high- speed parachute flight, this all becomes available after acquiring an intermediate level of skills.
Why Get Your Skydive License?
Perhaps you just did your first tandem skydive and want more, or you saw that epic wingsuiting video on YouTube, or you feel like you belong in the sky, or you just need a major change in your life. It doesn’t matter what piqued your interest and brought you here, you clearly have an interest. But there are likely many other reasons you never considered to get your skydive license. We’re going share a few with you.
#1: It’s Hella Fun! The most obvious reason to continue to pursue skydiving after your first jump is because it is an unbelievable amount of fun. If you’ve done even just one skydive, you know there’s no other activity as exhilarating as skydiving on the planet! If you haven’t, just ask anyone that has! Although it’s almost unfathomable, a tandem jump is just the tip of the iceberg. Learning to skydive and become a proficient flyer opens a door to manipulating gravity, performing maneuvers literally not possible in any other environment and playing amongst the clouds. It is the first step in learning how to become a proficient skydiver. If you want to fly squirrel suits (we call them wingsuits), BASE jump, fly in large formations with other skydivers, or fly super fast parachutes and do tricks, this is where we all started.
#2: Love of Flight and Adventure If you’ve always had a love for either flight or adventure, or hopefully both, then getting a skydiving license is a ticket to heaven. Getting certified means you’ll be spending a tonne of time around airplanes, pilots, parachutes and skydivers – all things that fly! Skydiving actually opens the door to two different sports in one activity as freefall flight (or human flight) is completely different set of skills and sensations than parachute flight. Pursuing your skydive certification is, in and of itself, a license for adventure. Every level involves a new skill, a new challenge and a new obstacle to overcome. You’ll be constantly challenged, constantly progressing, and constantly surprised at the capabilities of what can be achieved in freefall and during parachute descents.
#3 – Managing and Conquering Fear is a Transformative Life Experience A fear of heights or falling might seem like a bizarre reason to get your skydive license but on the contrary, it’s a very compelling reason. Imagine the other personal changes that will organically transpire after you’ve not only challenged a massive fear but you’ve embraced it as a way of life. We’re not overselling this when we say it will fundamentally and positively change who are you as a person. How could mastering one of the most common and visceral human fears not completely change you? It’s pretty difficult to imagine being afraid to ask for that raise, or being too timid to ask that someone out on a date because they might say no, when you’re now totally zen at the edge of open airplane door four kilometers above the ground! Imagine how that could change everything else in your life. It’s time to challenge yourself, learn, and expand your perspective of what your capabilities.
LET’S DO IT!