AFF Program Reviews

Read Skydive Orange AFF Student Reviews

Skydive Orange AFF Program Reviews

Our AFF skydiving certification program is recognized as one of the best on the East Coast. In fact, many of our skydiving students travel long distances to participate in our AFF program on the recommendation of their experienced skydiving friends. The professionalism of our instructors combined with the quality of our facilities and aircraft, make Skydive Orange the ideal dropzone for students beginning their skydiving journey.

If you’re looking for a well-structured, safety focused skydive training program, the Skydive Orange AFF course is for you. But don’t take our word for it, read what our program graduates have to say about their experience at Skydive Orange in the AFF program reviews below.


Albert Ogonevskiy: Safety is a Main Priority

I did my first static line jump back in 1999 and have been thinking about getting a license since then (it’s a long time, I know). Finally, last October I decided to give it a try. Friend of mine brought me to Skydive Orange and I can not imagine having a better AFF experience. Instructors and coaches are super competent and professional. Everybody at the drop zone is welcoming, helpful and ready to answer any question. Safety is a main priority here but at the same time they manage to keep the whole process fun.
Thanks Steve and the Team for the amazing journey! If you are serious about taking an AFF course, Skydive Orange is the place to go.

Ryan Bellack: Care For Safety Are Second to None

My first interactions with Skydive Orange were through Facebook and email to learn about the accelerated free fall (AFF) program, the program where you learn to skydive and obtain your A-License.  Skydive Orange’s communications from Whitney, who runs manifest, and Steve, who runs the AFF program, made me feel like I was their only customer.  I was looking at multiple dropzone to conduct AFF and only Skydive Orange made me feel this way.

Whitney is the face of the dropzone. She sits behind the counter at manifest and makes sure you get up in the air.  She always has a smile on her face and offers great customer service even when she is busy.   This goes for everyone in the manifest area – great customer service skills.

Steve, the AFF manager, trained me for my first jump course and made sure I was properly trained to have a safe first jump.  He was there throughout the program training me, providing quizzes, and instruction throughout the program.    All of the instructors and coaches seem to be of the same mold as Steve, they were all motivational, safety focused, smart, had quality teaching abilities, and conveyed the true importance of fun throughout all my interactions with them.  I am thankful for all the instructors and coaches who have helped me obtain my license to include, but not limited to: Steve, Mario, Tammer, Matt, Spencer, Alex, Carey, Cherry, Henry, and anyone I may have missed.

I took a parachute packing class with none other than Jon Stotts and he took his time with me on all the concepts and ensured I knew what I was doing to pack a parachute safety.  He even spent some extra time throughout my multiple visits to answer questions I had about the equipment and sport in general.  Jon is a very busy man, but he never made me feel that he did not have time to help me.  Thank you to Jairo for helping with my last pack job during the Boogie which was also a busy time, but he ensured I packed the chute properly.

I did have some troubles mastering the dreaded hop and pop, but the coaches and instructors kept giving me tips and corrections until I finally passed.  I can assure you my troubles were not from a lack of good instruction, but my own shortcomings.  I have to give a shout out to Matt Fistler and Tammer Ramini for not giving up on me when I struggled through this progression.   In fact, they were the only reason I did not give up.  Skydive Orange ensured I understood the importance of doing it right and helped me until I did it successfully.  The hop and pop at a low altitude is essentially a requirement to stay alive in a low altitude aircraft emergency.  Their attention to detail and care for safety are second to none.   I truly cannot say enough good things about the staff at Skydive Orange.

As for the facilities, they are top of the line.  The aircraft, the Twin Otter, climbs fast and has a nice big door for exits.   They have good technology, with a nice website full of info and they use Burble Me.  They are always offering courses to progress in skills and many Boogies.

is skydiving safe | skydive orange

Matt Stemmler: Firsts Impressions Last a Lifetime!

Skydive Orange is an amazing drop zone, and the best place to learn how to skydive!  I had previously completed two tandem jumps at Skydive Orange many years ago, and when my bank account was ready I didn’t even consider another drop zone to do my AFF.  They say “first impressions last a lifetime.” and that was truly the case with Skydive Orange.

I was highly impressed with the professionalism and friendliness of everyone at the drop zone. The instructors and coaches were extremely approachable and would answer any question you had.  Above all else, SAFETY was the number one priority in every phase of the training.  At the beginning of every jump day, the staff trains you on emergency procedures until THEY feel comfortable that you can handle yourself in the sky in any situation.  I accredit this training for keeping me calm during an emergency situation I encountered.  Because we trained every scenario thoroughly, the situation seemed routine and I never felt panicked.

My favorite part of learning to skydive at Orange was the wealth of knowledge and experience I was exposed to.  Steve was an outstanding primary instructor with nearly as many jumps as I have days on this planet.  Throughout my AFF I had the opportunity to jump with many different instructors and coaches, which gave me an opportunity to see different perspectives on various aspects of the jump.

Overall, I love this drop zone! I see myself jumping here for many many years to come!

Skydiving Licenses Explained | Skydive Orange

Mark Wisdom: Professional Training and Great Attitudes

I would like to thank the Steve Hetrick and all the AFF instructors and coaches at Skydive Orange for their professional training and great attitudes! Every instructor and coach shared awesome bits of advice during the training and pre-jump practice making the actual jump more understandable and enjoyable. The parachute riggers deserve a big shout out as they made sure we always had a safe rig available. They all provided excellent advice and instruction on packing as well! The entire staff behind the counters and running the show are a joy to be around. They provide an enjoyable atmosphere in the hangar and don’t hesitate to go out of their way to ensure everyone’s experience at Skydive Orange is a great one! I am looking forward to my next, and future visits and highly recommend Skydive Orange to everyone!

Ven Iyer: Safety Remains Priority

At Skydive Orange, I always felt assured of safety while having fun. On the day of my Cat A first jump course, without having participated in a tandem before, I did not know what to expect. I received quality training for six hours, performed multiple dry-runs with my dive instructors, was administered several gear-checks and was briefed on radio procedures until I felt adequately prepared to jump out of an airplane for the first time in my life.

Safety remains priority while training at Skydive Orange. Instructors and coaches are always eager to answer questions and share experiences and will go the extra mile in ensuring you get the required information and training. Students also enjoy the sport better as they feel assured of having received the required training and are comfortable in the sky.

I would like to thank all my instructors and coaches at Skydive Orange including OJ, Mario, Tina, Shane, Tammer, Nick, Billy, Hank, Harry and Lambert. Steve was splendid in controlling radio for canopy turns. Jon Stotts helped me tremendously with my training to self-pack parachutes.

Kat Osipova: Wealth of Information

Warning: in writing this review I acknowledge that I might be biased. Not only did I find a new passion, I also found a new family of like minded people and a home away from home. If you want to do it right come to Orange. Safety was a big thing for me and boy do they focus on safety here. Not once in my license progression did I feel like I didn’t know how to deal with a difficult situation, and I’ve had some interesting jumps. The instructors and the coaches are a wealth of information! They are also very friendly and approachable and are willing to teach you everything they know. You just have to listen and learn. Of course there are some challenges that come with any sport. That’s just the nature of the beast. The biggest one for me was sitting out the bad weather. And even then the guys and gals were very accommodating and worked with me on equally important aspects of skydiving like packing your own chute, or doing ground training, or going over already learned material to make sure there were no questions or issues.  There is always so much to be learned! If the thought of skydiving ever crossed your mind – do it. Don’t wait for 10 years to pass. And to do it right you have to come to Orange. I’m glad I did. It changed my life for the better. 🙂

William Leas: Quality Instruction

Pursuing my A license at Skydive Orange was one of the best decisions I have ever made. I think the thing that stands out the most about the AFF program at Orange is the quality of instruction and the emphasis on safety. On every jump, from my Cat A jump to my graduation skydive, I never felt overwhelmed or unaware of what to do should something go wrong. Every single time you show up for an AFF jump you are required to practice emergency procedures. Though tedious Steve and the AFF gang make sure every time you are put in the plane you are confident and ready to skydive. The instructors are great about working with students individually and debriefing after every jump. You’ll learn so much even from just hanging around the hanger. Orange is the best place to start jumping hands down.

Curtis Giles: Safety is the Priority!

Skydive Orange (SDO) is the STANDARD for AFF. Safety is the priority! The facilities and staff are professional and always willing to provide those little nuggets of wisdom that’ll help you during your AFF process, as well as throughout your skydiving career. You cannot have a conversation with anyone that has gone through, or are currently going through their AFF at SDO and not mention the well-respected AFF director Steve. Steve is to the point and runs the SDO AFF program like a well-oiled machine. He makes multi-tasking look effortless. I have many memories of Steve, but my fondest moment was my 25th jump. I landed right next to the cone and there was Steve standing by the white student pickup truck with that emotionless look on his face. I said “See Steve, I may not act like I’m listening to you, but I really do.” He replied with “Yeah, you finally did something right”. Inside joke…Steve gave me my A license stamp on forehead gave me some more words of wisdom, and like clockwork, got back to work and manifested the AFF students on the next load and assigned them to their AFF Instructor or Coach.

The Instructors, Coaches, Riggers, Packers, and Guest Services personnel are second to none. One thing you’ll learn about skydiving is that the weather will dictate skydive operations. There will be days where you will be at the DZ all day and get one jump in if you’re lucky, due to wind, rain, clouds and cloud holds. Instead of just sitting around twiddling your thumbs, you can get with a packer and learn how to pack your chute. You can ask an Instructor or Coach to train you on the next AFF Category or make sure that you’re caught up on your quizzes. Coming from a military Airborne background, I really appreciate how everyone is willing to assist you and make you feel comfortable as you progress through your AFF training.

I can honestly say that I’ve been introduced to some new friends to that I look forward to continuing to kiss the sky with. Henry, Billy, Mario, Matt, Tammer, Adam, Tina, Monica, Nick, Spencer, Cherry, Jon, Luke, Kevin, Whitney, Kelly and “SODU” thank you for being from Day 1 to graduation. I’ve jumped with many SDO AFF Instructors and Coaches, so please forgive me if I miss anyone. See you in the sky and at the bonfire! I’m claiming my bunk!

Keith Buell: Better instruction & a stronger safety culture

I just completed my skydiving A license at Orange and had a great experience. I began AFF at a different dropzone and went through six jumps there. The difference between that dropzone and Orange was night and day. At the first place, the instruction was good for ground school, but after eight jumps, students are mostly on their own until they do a couple coach jumps and get their license. The gear was also a little long in the tooth. At Orange, they follow the current ISP program that has many coached jumps after the first eight AFF jumps. The coaching at Orange was fantastic. Each jump had a thorough pre-jump review and a post-jump debrief. At the place I started, I was lucky to get five minutes of instruction from an instructor who had just run in from landing a tandem. Also at Orange, each day begins with a thorough hands-on review of simulated emergency procedures–another thing that was lacking where I began.

I ended up paying more at Orange to get my license than I would have had I continued at the first dropzone, but I was paying for better instruction and a stronger safety culture–both of which are invaluable to me. The AFF director at Orange, Steve, knows his stuff and his safety consciousness was frustrating at first when I drove 90 minutes and couldn’t jump because of winds. Steve knew that even though the ground level winds were just under the 14 mph limit for students, they were stronger at 1000′ and it wasn’t safe because it may have been difficult to reach the landing area if I ended up downwind. Steve has the unenviable job of keeping eager students within their safety limits.

All the instructors and coaches that I jumped with were knowledgeable and friendly–Henry, Billy, Tammer, Monica, Mario, Matt, Adam, David, and Carey. I can’t wait to continue jumping and to hang out around the bonfires after a fun day in the sky.

One more thing–Orange has a Twin Otter, which is comfortable and quick on the way up to 14,000′. And it has a nice big door for easy exits.

Christopher Cabrera: Worth Every Penny!

For anyone even a little interested in skydiving, THIS is THE place to go, hands down. From Day 1, everyone associated with Skydive Orange has been nothing but helpful, friendly, and approachable, from the Head Honcho, to Administration, and of course the Coaches and Instructors. These guys have a passion for skydiving and a genuine interest in passing that on to everyone that steps through the door. Luckily, I live an hour or so from the Dropzone, however would be willing to drive from much longer and farther to continue coming to Skydive Orange. I started at SO with a Tandem Jump in July 2016, decided to pursue my A License February 2017, and got my stamp in May 2017, and have every intention to keep going.

Students entering the AFF Program need to understand one thing: this activity is at the mercy of Mother Nature – if you accept this, you’ll have a great ride! I have worked with at least 8 different Coaches/Instructors along the journey, each and every one of them knowledgeable and patient during the teaching and learning process. There are no stupid questions here, as they are sticklers for safety and protocol – never a bad thing when participating in an activity 14,000 feet in the sky. Each jump is prepped with everything you need to know as well as discussed afterward to provide additional feedback; this organization services A LOT of people on a daily basis, however when you are with the coach(es), they make you feel like you are their only student. Along with an instruction manual, their hangar has everything needed to prep for your jumps, so when you do get in the air, there are no surprises. I felt well prepared and safe along every step of the way. Make yourself available more days to get through the program faster – at 25 required jumps, you won’t breeze through in a couple of weekends; it is what you make of it, and for those who don’t have great coordination – be patient because it can be a little bit of work to nail down these techniques. Don’t worry – the Coaches/Instructors will be patient with you and your learning style.

At the end of the day, this is a business, and every one at Skydive Orange is professional, courteous, and organized. And while they have no control over the behavior of the people who come to jump at the dropzone, they breed a culture of inclusivity – no rockstars or cult mentality here; you are free to be as involved in the skydiving community as you want.

Huge thanks to the Head Honcho, Steve H. for putting together an awesome organization – he really has all the right people on staff; while always in the mix and hands on with students and jumpers, he’s always laid back and easy going because his crew has the place covered. You’re in good hands with the ENTIRE staff.

skydive Orange AFF

Juan Ayala: Professional & Comfortable

What I like most: professional coaches, safety in the jumps, have a comfortable environment for students and experienced jumpers, personally the coaches followed step by step my evolution, with clear indications on things that I should improve.

I consider that what I would advise the new students is, ask about everything that is unclear or you want to learn, you enjoy more jumps when there are no doubts.

The coaches knew that I had jumps in my country so they understood and gave me greater confidence to be able to evolve faster, thank you for all your help and your teaching.

I have no complaints about DZ, it is a very good place to learn and enjoy skydiving. In terms of suggestions, I believe that I am happy with the comforts they offer, they helped me a lot because I do not speak English perfectly, thank you very much

Ryan Johnson: Top Of The Line

I concluded my class a license at skydive orange on March 12th 2017. There’s so many positive things to say about Skydive Orange. The equipment is top of the line and meticulously maintained. The facilities are excellent. Every single staff member is excellent, extremely knowledgeable and helpful. They know how to break the tension students get and have a good time yet safety is ALWAYS the number one priority. If a line is crossed nobody is afraid to point out what was done wrong and why and how to avoid it. They make everything a learning experience. Especially Steve Hetrick, he deserves a raise and a medal for all he does and all the wisdom he passes on. The only bad thing I can think of about Orange is the only complaint I’ve ever heard and that is the distance from home but there isn’t anything that can be done about that. My advice for future students is to keep up on those quizzes and get a copy of the SIM and read over your current category and the next one every chance you get. If you don’t understand something ask, and if you don’t understand one persons explanation or a technique they’ve shown you ask someone else, hearing it another way may just click with you. Also read ahead on your progression card and get things checked off early if possible like your accuracy landings if you get them and get started packing as soon as you can. My only suggestion for Skydive Orange is to keep it up; the equipment, the aircraft, and the people truly do make it Virginia’s Premier DZ.

Anthony Acevedo: What An Experience

Wow! What an experience, a very great experience! I own two business and I know how an operation should be run. Steve has been an amazing Coach and teacher, while Whitney has made this process so easy. Everyone here is so professional and helpful. Definitely recommending this place for everyone to jump. Can’t wait to keep on jumping, on to my B License! 2/26/2017

Mike Biero: Calm and organized

Skydive Orange was a trip! Everybody there is so easy to get along with, whether they’re instructors or not, everybody was approachable and willing to help new student skydivers. Steve does an amazing job in keeping everybody calm and organized throughout the busy days and makes sure we’re all having a blast while we’re working to get our A licenses. My advice to give is just to relax and enjoy every jump during your student days and keep in mind that maybe not every jump is going to go your way, so don’t get discouraged! Have fun, keep diving, and you won’t regret it. No suggestions I can think of, y’all got it down! Blue skies! 1/18/17

Staff and facilities

David Blanco: Staff and facilities

The staff and facilities at Skydive Orange are all awesome, I could not have asked for a better AFF experience. There was never a point that I felt like I was not prepared to accomplish the next task, all the instructors are extremely knowledgeable and more than happy to answer questions. Not to mention, that having a Twin Otter to jump out of is epic. Advice that I wish I had known was that being nervous was a part of the learning process. Some days you feel awesome and some your feel hesitant, but not to worry, you’ll learn to love it! Advice for other students: Stick with it and have fun! The only part I didn’t like was getting up early was less fun, but that’s more reflection of me than Skydive Orange 😉 11/06/2016

Skydive orange flexible

Julie Hill: Be flexible!

Skydive Orange was a great dz to learn at, and I love jumping there! The instructors/coaches were all great and able to meet me where I was, as a student.  The training and feedback that I got before/after each jump helped me learn and develop skills every time.  The focus on safety was obvious to me from the first day that I was there, I can tell that everyone there takes their work very seriously.

For future AFF students, I would recommend being very flexible with your schedule, trying to make time every week to jump. Nothing is more frustrating than having one day set aside for skydiving, just to not be able to jump because of the weather. Have a few back up options that can keep you at the dz on a regular basis. At the same time though, don’t stress out (like I did) when it feels like it’s taking forever to move through the categories.

I can’t think of anything specific that I don’t like about Skydive Orange, I’m happy to jump there 🙂 11/13/16

Great skydive orange

Mikhail An: Great place all around

It’s a really great place! I recommend Skydive Orange to everyone who would like to start the AFF course or tandem jump. I tried a couple of different places before and I choose Skydive Orange for my AFF program. Great instructors: Steve, Matt, Chad, Henry, Gigi, Billy, Elizabeth, also the coaches: Monica, Tammer and Jim! It was my pleasure to work with those people during my course. Great pilot and very good plane condition! The best facility in our area!!! 11-13-16

knowledgeable skydive orange

Elias Garcia: Knowledgeable staff

I started my AFF training at a different drop zone, Skydive Orange was very accommodating. I was able to complete A license requirements very efficiently while in a safe training environment. The instructors and coaches are very knowledgeable and provide excellent instruction. Emergency procedures were reviewed every morning to ensure that all students were ready to face the myriad of possible malfunctions. The students have their own landing area so they aren’t competing with the licensed jumpers and tandems for air space or landing space. If you are interested in getting into this sport, I highly recommend Skydive Orange. Listen to your instructors and coaches, remain altitude aware, arch, legs, relax, and enjoy the ride! 10-29-16
Learning at skydive orange

Mark Pierce: Learning at SDO

I have loved learning to skydive at Skydive Orange. It is a great drop zone that welcomes everyone right in and makes a great learning environment for developing skydiving skills and a new group of friends with a similar interest. I would tell student skydivers to get to know as many people at the skydivers at the drop zone as possible and learn from them as much as you can to help develop your own skills as much as possible. There’s not really much I could say bad about Skydive Orange. It’s a great drop zone with a lot of awesome instructors and coaches and Steve does an awesome job keeping it all organized and flowing the whole time. I can’t really think of anything that could be done better, it’s a great organization. 9-22-16

warm environment

Dustin Snapper: Friendly, warm environment

Skydive Orange is an amazing place to learn how to skydive. They have given me a solid foundation on how to be a safe skydiver. Everyone there is also super friendly, warm, and funny making it such a great environment to be in. Steve, the instructors, and, the coaches are truly there for the students and have all taught me so much.  Don’t be afraid to ask the coaches/instructors for advice and lots of questions. Also….don’t forget to pull. : ) The only thing I don’t like is that I can’t sit on the side of the pick up truck when driving back to the hanger. I’m kidding I love skydive orange. A couple of my jumps were filmed by my AFF-I and I got to watch my jumps right after as part of the debriefing. I learned a lot from just watching these videos, as my instructor was showing me what I needed to improve on and what I was doing well. Filming for certain categories and going over it with the instructor would be a great addition to the debrief.


Dave Harris Skydive Orange AFF Student

Dave Harris – South Riding, VA

South Riding, VA

The instructors and coaches were incredibly competent, professional and fun to be around.

The largest tandem skydiving center near Northern Virginia, Washington D.C. and Maryland.

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