I went to the Pepperell Jump School at the Pepperell Drop Zone on Rt 111 in Pepperell, MA (1-800-SKY-JUMP), and took the Accelerated Freefall (AFF) course. Although Pepperell seems to be just a little bit more expensive than some of the other jump schools in the area, I went to them because they seemed to be the most knowledgeable and experienced. Now that I’ve been there time and time again, I can say that I am impressed with their ability and dedication. I would recommend Pepperell to anyone. (I’ve even brought my own brother there!)
The AFF course consists of a day-long (7-10 hours depending on the students) ground school followed by seven levels of jumps and is designed to teach students how to skydive safely, in a relatively short time. Each level has certain objectives you must meet before you can progress to the next level. For example, for level I the objectives are: exposure to continuous terminal freefall (if you jump, you meet this one), heading awareness (if you look at the ground you meet this one), coordinated body movements for practice ripcord touches (this one is pretty simple), awareness and attention to altitude (the second most important), pull rip cord without assistance at 4,500′ (the most important). These objectives are actually very simple and easy. Some of the objectives for the higher levels are a little harder. However, some people do go all the way through the course without redoing any level.
Let me explain how this section is arranged. After your Jump Master (JM) debriefs you (after each jump) he will write a summary of the jump in your jump log. Below, I have written two paragraphs for each of my jumps. The first paragraph (the one in CAPS) is what the instructor wrote down in my log. Anything in that paragraph in square brackets ‘[ ]’ was added my me. The second paragraph (the bold one) is my description of the jump. I indicated what my thoughts were during the jump by typing them within quotes.
Terms And Abbreviations:
The JM tells you to climb out. You get in position next to the door (or stand on a little platform outside the plane if you’re using the Cessna). Then you say: CHECK IN [checking with the JM inside the plane], CHECK OUT [checking wi th the JM outside the plane], PROP [looking forward], OUT [rock toward the door], IN [rock toward the inside of the plane], ARCH [jump out and arch your body].
Circle of awareness. Check the horizon. Check your altimeter. Check in with your secondary (left) JM. Check in with your primary (right) JM.
Practice rip cord touch. Let’s the JM know that you know where your rip cord is.
Hand signal that indicates you are aware that you are at 5,500′.
Canopy (parachute) control. How well you ‘fly’ your parachute.