Although when you are brand new at indoor skydiving it can feel unusual and tricky – you only need to look as far as the instructor of your class to understand that it is possible to be very, very good at it. While watching the instructors fly it is easy to believe that they have magical powers, and that normal people simply cannot do it. They are also just people though – ones who are passionate and driven enough to put in the effort required to get to the top of the pile. Indoor skydiving training is nobody’s idea of cheap – and unless you have lots of cash to throw at it, a potential way to access the time you need to train your skills to the highest level is by becoming an instructor yourself. Here’s what it takes to become an instructor.
It takes some intense training to become qualified as an indoor skydiving instructor – usually a month of daily work both inside and outside of the tunnel. Due to the investment required, the tunnel wants to be sure that a candidate is committed to the job and as such will not only interview thoroughly but also very likely require you to spend time with the team you will ultimately work with.
In the USA, the safety and training of instructors is governed by the Indoor Bodyflight Association (IBA) who provides a framework of checks and balances for teaching and flying in the tunnel. If you are successful and complete the FITP (Flight Instructor Training Program) you will become qualified as a level 1 instructor. This means that you are able to teach basic flying skills to the general public. Hooray! However, this is very much only the beginning as the FITP course focuses primarily on safety skills. Your coaching technique and flying skills come via doing the job – so it is down to you how hard you work and how good you get.
While it is possible to pay your way onto a FITP course, the usual method is whereby once you have been offered a job the tunnel will require you to sign a contract for two years. The idea of this is that you work off the initial investment in your training over that time.
Tunnel instructing can be a physically demanding job, and to secure a place on the course you need to demonstrate a reasonable level of fitness. Exactly what the fitness test is changes from time to time but is generally some push-ups, pull-ups, burpees, and a beep test. You don’t have to be an ultra-fitness person to be a tunnel instructor, but the fitter you are the better – not only for your role as an instructor but also for your personal flying skills.
Being an indoor skydiving instructor means operating under pressure in a small team, so working well with and being supportive of your colleagues is crucial. New tunnel instructors all want to become the best flyer in the world and to waste no time doing so, but the experienced members of the team have heard it all many times before. You will have access to the knowledge and resources to get good – but the team always comes first and you getting better does not come at the cost of everyone else. Those hiring new staff will be on the lookout for employees who have good people skills – so try to remember this when you are applying as primarily you are being hired to interact with the general public. It doesn’t matter if you are the best flyer for a thousand miles in every direction – if you are good with kids and families you will do well.
What It Is Really Like
If you are truly passionate about flying and teaching then working as an instructor can be the best job in the world. Constantly introducing new flyers to the tunnel can be immensely rewarding as they realize that they can do it too. Then you get to throw down your moves at the end of the class and they look at you like you are a superhero. The salary you get for instructing is not going to make anyone rich – but if you consider the amount of time that ultimately you fly each week and factor that in then it can make a lot of sense. Tunnel instructing is a lifestyle job, and if you take it on then you will be there at the tunnel a lot. Once you get the position you have to work hard to get everything out of it – but if you do the opportunities will start to present themselves. With enough dedication, you may indeed find your way into the flying elite, and have a hugely rewarding job to get you there.
Categorised in: Indoor Skydiving
This post was written by Gabriel