Well, it finally happened. Got my AFF Instructor rating here at Skydive New England, the crew here just wouldn't have it any other way. I went kicking and screaming through the whole process and glad it is over. Best part is I now will be way more involved with the students from start to finish. Check out the Skydive New England Learning Center Fan Page for more info on our student and fun jumper progression and Jump IN! locals club.
Three of us took the course, Jill Herrington, Dave Lake and myself. Jill finished first, I just finished and Dave will be on the starting blocks soon.
The first week Theresa Nadean owner of Keystone Skydive Center out of Pennsylvania, helped all the way through the initial course. She has over 10 years as an evaluator. Mike Hawley, our course director and evaluator with decades in the sport as an instructor and evaluator hung in there for months trying to get us finished up. Weather became a serious factor for most of it, from winds to rain in the beginning really slowed things down. It got to the point that if Mike was coming out we slept in figuring the weather would crap out on us.
let me tell you. Finish the course & you want to go hot ASAP and do your eval jumps. A week goes by or worse two to three and when your evaluator shows back up you feel at square one again. Doing your training and evaluation jumps is some the most focus intensive jumps you will make for a while. Having a student do just about everything to hose you makes me wonder why anyone would ever want to do it. Once it was over I can say that everyone of my students chewed gum, left their shoes untied, never could figure out how to configure a chest strap, left their goggles on the mock up and somehow figure out how to mis-route just about everything. And no matter how well you got them to preform on the ground, they completely de-arched on exit, blew every count, flipped, rolled, back slid, spun on every jump, and never, I mean NEVER, pulled.
My final and passing jump put me on a 20 minute call for my first student all the to cheers, jeers and overall hazing by DZ staff. Lots a fun for sure. That's two cases of beer by the way, one for passing and one for first AFF jump. I must say I was nervous. What was this guy going to do to us? At least I was current. The jump went perfect, the guy was totally heads up all the way to the ride through. Completely spun my noggin though.
I must say, the course is very comprehensive and one is bound to learn a lot. I don't care how long you have been jumping as a coach, you will get a lot out of this course. And gone are the hard core days of showing up and risking it all. This course has changed a lot over the years. By the time you fill out your card and get some practice jumps in the course is now designed to help you along by actually training you to become an instructor. You will know long before your eval jumps whether or not you can do this. After the ground skills are assessed and tested, it's all about your flying and looking after your student.
I must say, everyone here at SNE has been very supportive. Instructors of any type here are the life blood of the skydiving business and everyone here wants to see you do well. I couldn't have asked for more. Mike Hawley thoroughly enjoys instructing, training and working with students. And beyond that, having your friends and coworkers from your home DZ rooting you on, being completely supportive and not giving you the chance to fail, is a real blessing.
Thanks to all for the support. Looking forward to having fun and learning in this new space of skydiving, AFF.
If you are even doing coach jumps now and hesitating on the AFF rating. Get over it. Get out there and do it. You will be glad you did.