The Difference Between IAD & AFF

Saturday, September 14, 2019

Did you start your skydiving career by dipping a toe in the water with a tandem skydive? Have you caught the skydiving bug and are itching to do more? Here’s the deal. At Skydive Tecumseh, we offer two means of skydiving training to help you become an independent skydiver. 

When looking into becoming a solo skydiver and achieving licensed skydiver status, you’ll come across a few acronyms: namely, IAD and AFF. Both IAD and AFF are certified methods of training progression approved by the United States Parachute Association to help you learn to skydive solo.

So, what’s the difference? 


The acronym IAD stands for Instructor Assisted Deployment. With Instructor Assisted Deployment, your USPA Licensed instructor will have extracted your pilot chute ( a small auxiliary parachute used to deploy the main parachute) and have it firmly in their grasp. As you exit the aircraft, the instructor will initiate the deployment process by releasing your pilot chute. This method is very similar to static line but does not require special equipment. In IAD, your instructor plays the “role” of the static line.

With IAD, you have less to focus on that first pivotal time out of the aircraft, as the initial work is done for you. Rather, your primary focus will be on a stable exit and your flight under canopy. The first skydive occurs from around 3,500 feet, and on each successive skydive, you will go incrementally higher. Under Instructor Assisted Deployment, you do not experience true freefall until about the 6th jump. Your progression will move from the instructor being responsible for deployment, to solo deployment, to freefall and subsequent solo deployment. One of the primary allures of the IAD system is that it is a less expensive entry method into solo skydiving, and the overall program is less expensive than AFF.

Top view of a skydiver learning to parachute


AFF, or Accelerated Freefall, is one of the quickest methods of progression for would-be skydivers. After a ground course that takes anywhere from 6-8 hours, you will make your first “solo” skydive. On this skydive, you will be assigned two instructors who hold instructional ratings issued by the United States Parachute Association. Neither of these instructors is attached to you, as one would be on a tandem skydive. Rather, these instructors are there to hold on to grips on your jumpsuit and/or harness. These instructors are also there to provide instruction via hand signals and hands on assistance to help keep you stable in freefall. 

On your first AFF jump, you will experience a freefall of anywhere from 30-60 seconds. At the appropriate time, you are expected to deploy your own parachute by extracting your pilot chute and initiating the deployment sequence. On each subsequent jump, you will be taught the basic flying skills you need to be cleared to skydive without supervision.

Skydiving Solo

Regardless of the method you choose, once you have completed your chosen progression and been cleared for self-supervision by your instructor, you will have the skills you need to complete solo skydives. In order to obtain an “A” License from the USPA, you will need to accrue 25 total skydives and demonstrate on a final “check dive” that you have mastered a variety of freefall skills and body flight maneuvers. 

Skydiving Solo

After this, the world is your oyster. Where will your skydiving progression take you? The sky is the limit!

Tandem Skydiver in freefall at Skydive Tecumseh

I've been wanting to skydive for a number of years and on September 3rd for my 50th birthday, I jumped with Skydive Tecumseh. The staff were amazing and the experience was unbelievable and I will be back!

Jeffrey Gee

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