Skydive Orange
Virginia's Premier Drop Zone!

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Skydive Orange Student Skydiver Program - Graduates* - New Certified Skydivers who just got their "A" Skydiving license!

2010 AFF Skydiving certification program Graduates!

2011 Skydiving Graduates 2010 Skydiving Graduates
2009 Skydiving graduates 2008 Skydiving graduates
2007 Skydiving graduates 2006 Skydiving graduates

Graduates* and Instructors- Skydiving Students should fill out the information on this page when they get their Skydiving license. We'd like graduate's information submitted in a timely manner. Instructors- please have graduates email their information right away when they graduate!

NEW! - Get 6** Free skydives from 2 1/2 miles high ($510 value) when you graduate!

Graduate* Student Student comments

Check back - more graduates coming soon!

Brad McKinney, Centreville, VA
A license date: July 2, 2011

Brad says he arranged for a photo to be sent... We'll see!

What I like most : The atmosphere at skydive orange is my favorite part of jumping here. Everyone is very nice and laid back, but when it comes to jumping everyone is very knowledgeable and all business. I have felt welcome here since the day I showed up for my first student jump.

Advice for other students: always listen to your instructors! Other jumpers are always a good source of advice, but when it comes down to it your instructors are the ones rated by USPA to be giving you the advice you should follow. Also, start packing early and stay on top of your quizzes.

Advice I wish I was given: none really, I always felt I was told everything I needed to know.

Suggestions: I think category F should include one jump with an instructor to evaluate your tracking.

Johanna Kraus

A-License: June 26th 2011

Fairfax, VA



What I like the most about Skydive Orange
That’s an easy question - the awesome Orange family! The staff is very professional. Everyone pays a lot of attention to the safety and all the instructors and coaches have great skills.

Advice for other student skydivers
I would definitely recommend to just hanging out after jumps. Spend the weekend at the drop zone. Have a couple of drinks and just chat. Everyone can tell you great stories about their skydiving experience.
You learn a lot from just talking to the folks, so don’t be afraid to ask questions.
Start to learn how to pack early and keep up with the ground training especially with the quizzes (Steve, Pam and Adam probably know what I’m talking about). And the most important advice that I can give is to just relax and have FUN, I mean hell you’re Skydiving! And personally that’s the greatest joy I’ve ever experienced!

What I don't like about Skydive Orange
Wind and clouds, remember they are your enemy! But there’s nothing Skydive Orange can do about it! …Honestly, I can’t think of anything that ever bothered me.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone! I really appreciate everything you guys are doing for all the students. Thank you to Ned, Steve, John C., Adam, Pam, Bryan, Larry, Hank, Justin, Nick, Joost, Heady, Lambert, Gigi, Mary, Rob, Tres and the rest of the Orange gang for teaching me how to skydive and supporting
me on my way to my A-License.

Blue Skies!

Diego Campos (AKA Caveman - we must have a nickname by the time we graduate in Brazil :) )

A License Date: May 7th 2011

Sao Paulo - Brazil

    What I like the most about Skydive Orange
Safety being a top priority (because it is!) and the familiar environment and mood - I did my AFF in Brazil, a few jumps in Atlanta and even though I was received as being a long time student and friend. In a couple of weekends I could do 8 jumps and learn a lot! I slept there, we had fun and some drinks in the night... just a great time.

    Advice for other student skydivers
I was a little stiff and doing things fast (that's how I behave under pressure). The key here is relaxing (wind tunnel helped me a lot). Understand the equipment, emergency procedures and soak the most information you can from the DZ and other skydivers, live and breath the sport.

    Advice you wish you had been given
That I was supposed to pull after 5 seconds in my hop and pop instead of dive until my planned altitude pull.

What I don't like about Skydive Orange
It is too far away from where I live :P

 Suggestions for Skydive Orange:
Just keep up the good work. Ah: A wind sock or any other device to point the wind direction in the Student's landing area would be nice.

My company has business in US and I go there every so often (mainly to DC area). I am 100% sure I will try my best to show up at Skydive Orange every time I can. Thanks for everything guys!


Peter M. Dennis
A License Date: 5/1/11
Potomac, Maryland

Skydiving is more than just an experience.  It's a way of life.  As you progress through your AFF program, you'll find that skydiving begins as an extreme sport and an adrenaline-inducing activity, but by the time you've obtained your license, you'll understand it to be so much more.  Yes, it's thrilling, but it's also meditative, challenging, and a fun way to explore what you're truly capable of.  Plus, after a day of jumping, you're virtually guaranteed to feel awesome.  When you're up there, the problems and stresses of everyday life tend to be left back on earth.  Your mind is clear.  And even if its only for a few minutes, you're living life to the most, and that life is perfect.

If you're interested in skydiving, I have three recommendations:

  1. Sign up for the AFF program at Orange.  The staff is incredible, the drop zone has a great culture of fun, and their focus on making safety the top priority is first rate.

  2. Try to nail out as much of the AFF course during the warm summer months as possible.  Mid-way through my training I took some time off and didn't resume my training until the cold winter months had set in.  And while cold-weather jumps are still a lot of fun, I've personally found focusing on my dives and accomplishing objectives is easier when I'm not thinking about how cold my fingers are.

  3. Have fun.  In the end, that's what it's all about. 

Skydive Orange is more than just a dropzone.  As you progress through your AFF course, you'll find that you become part of a family of people who are supportive, kind, hardworking, and dedicated to both safety and fun.  Thanks to everyone at Orange who helped me on my way to becoming a licensed skydiver! Thanks especially to Ned, Steve, Charlie, Mike, Lambert, Adam, Boysen, Heady, Bryan, Pam, Tanya, Eileen, Hank, Ahmad, Corey, John, Tres, Gigi and the rest of the Orange gang who helped me turn my dream of flight into a reality!




Jon Stotts
March 8,2011
Culpeper, Virginia
What I like most about skydive orange: Thats a hard question because I love everything at skydive orange. It's a fun place where everyone is always in a good mood, and when you walk in every morning you are welcomed by smiling faces.
The only advice I can give a student is just relax and have fun. Also remember that there is no such thing as a stupid question, the only stupid question is the one not asked. Don't be afraid to ask someone a question.

Jennifer Sanders
December 11, 2010

Alexandria, VA

My husband and I started AFF at a different dropzone, but transferred for the beautiful weather at Orange.  We were immediately adopted in and welcomed.  Not only is Orange an awesome place, but it carries a wide variety gear that is readily available for students.  It is awesome to try different canopies and feel their performance. 

I love that every day you start off in the “safety harness” and go over “what-if” scenarios, this is brilliant and I greatly appreciate the focus of the instructors and the coaches.   All of the instructors and coaches are willing to explain anything that you might have questions about.  It is so important to ask every question that you have…the answer could save your life! 

One suggestion that I would give for other students is to ask a coach to do a gripped exit on one of your coach jumps; have you be the individual gripping the instructor.  This is one skill that I didn’t learn through AFF and I would have liked to have practiced it before receiving my license. 

Thanks so much to everyone at Orange for being so welcoming and fun!  Thanks, in particular, to Steve Hetrick for running an amazing program!  We look forward to many more blue skies with you!

Aaron Sanders
A-License Nov 21, 2010

Alexandria, VA

Thanks to everyone at Skydive Orange for helping me get my license!! Everyone was very welcoming and helpful, even though I didn’t start my AFF at Orange. Thanks especially to Steve and Ned for running a great school!
What I like the most about Skydive Orange: Covering every bullet point in the SIM – there’s a lot of good information in those outlines, and it’s very helpful to cover it with someone who can explain and demonstrate it. I also like that we reviewed emergency procedures every morning. Building that muscle memory is critical. And it’s really nice to have such a large variety of rigs and canopies to try out.

Advice for other student skydivers: Visualize your jumps beforehand and relax! Even if you don’t accomplish everything you want to in a jump, remember, you’re still skydiving!

Thanks and Blue Skies!



Daniel Soria
A-License November 21, 2010

Lorton, Virginia

Skydive Orange in my experience is the most popular and well organized dropzone that I know of. After spending 8 hours in late August, getting drilled with all the knowledge needed to participate in my first jump(AFF jump), I knew I was properly prepared by experts. From the first day  I jumped until now, Skydive Orange has treated me as if I were apart of the Orange family.
For any person interested in becoming an AFF student, my advice, be prepared to become addicted to a new sport. Take advantage of the many experts available and don't be afraid to ask questions to any staff or skydiver. After my first jump I knew this is what I wanted to do on my days off, for as long as i can.

Thanks to all the people involved in helping me achieve my license!(Ned, Steve, Kevin Gibson, Mary, Melissa, Gigi, Charlie, Lambert, Heady, Brian, Leslie, Hank, Ahmad, Pam, Boysen, Nick, Larry, Rob, Daniel, John, Eileen, Tres, Corey, and the rest of my Skydive Orange family)

Cori Stone
A-License- November 21, 2010

Lorton, Virginia

What I like most about Skydive Orange: Definitely the people and the atmosphere. Everybody at Orange is so welcoming. Throughout the course of my AFF training, I have met the most amazing people at Orange. People who will be in my life for a very long time. And, everyone is so knowledgeable. The instructors and the coaches are absolute professionals who I have, and will always, trust with my life. My experience at Skydive Orange has been wonderful, and I wouldn't change a second of it. Skydive Orange has become a huge part of my life, and I have gained life-long friends and a new family.

 A special thanks to: Ned, Steve, Kevin Gibson, Mary, Melissa, Gigi, Charlie, Lambert, Heady, Brian, Leslie, Hank, Ahmad, Pam, Boysen, Nick, Larry, Rob, Daniel, John, Eileen, Tres, Corey, and the rest of my Skydive Orange family. Thank you all for everything that you've done for me. You all have given me the most precious gift; the freedom of flight!

 What I don't like about Skydive Orange: Nothing! Everything about Orange is perfect!

 Advice for future students: Don't be afraid to ask questions. I promise, they will know the answer. Take advantage of the skill that Skydive Orange has to offer. The instructors and the coaches are the best of the best, and if you can gain a fraction of their knowledge you'll be a great skydiver. 


Ashley Thompson
A-License- Nov 14, 2010

Virginia Beach, VA

Everyone who works at the dropzone and hangs out around it are great.  They love the sport and are dedicated to helping those of us who are new to it.  They are the reason I did all my jumps here and because of the Skydive Orange community I'd recommend this dropzone to anyone. 

To anyone looking to learn to jump, my advice is to rehearse everything on the ground as many times as you can so it just happens naturally once you're in the air.  And, just relax and enjoy it.  If it takes you 15 jumps to finish your card or 25  it doesn't matter as long as you're enjoying the time you get in the air. 

A big thank you to everyone at Skydive Orange, I'm sure I'll be having fun with you all for years to come whether in freefall or by the campfire.  




Marcy K. Broadway
A-license-13 Nov 2010

Upper Marlboro, MD

What I like most about Skydive Orange: Without a doubt it's the great people that skydive at Orange. I am very impressed with the instructors, coaches, and staff. All are very professional and are there to assist you
in any way that they can. They take the time with you that is needed in order to help you to succeed in every way possible. I can't say enough good things about them. Thanks Kevin R for the two tandems that got me started. You made me feel secure and I enjoyed both very much. Thank you Bryan and Pam for my first A jump, I am very grateful to you both for not only being great instructors but for telling me the truth when I asked. Steve Hetrick you are a great mentor for the students, and trust me, I'll be asking you more questions as I go. 

My advice to other students is nothing that you haven't heard already. Learn to pack early and actually pack once you've completed the packing class, don't procrastinate on it. Take advantage of the downtime, watch and learn from the folks there. Go to the tunnel if you can, it is a humbling, but absolutely fantastic learning experience. Start looking into your gear early on, ask questions of the right folks about what kind of equipment to look at, know what kind of costs you are looking at upon graduation. Ask questions!!!! And most of all relax.. be patient and have fun. 




Colin Doniger

A License Date
7 Nov 2010

Leesburg, VA

What I like the most about Skydive Orange
     The people, the instructors, and the coaches are all great. The entire staff is super welcoming and helpful. 

Advice for other student skydivers
     Relax and have fun. Don’t get caught up in passing every category on the first try. There is plenty of time. Have fun jumping and if you don’t pass on the first try, just enjoy the experience and learn from your mistakes. 

Advice you wish you had been given
     Look up at the plane every time you exit!

What I don't like about Skydive Orange
     The purple student jumpsuits!

Suggestions for Skydive Orange:
     Give cameras to all the instructors to use as debrief tools. 

I’d like to say thanks to:
     Steve, for working with me on my unique situation
     Charlie, for being patient with me, it was great to have another “full bodied” person to jump with
     Ahmad, for the video, it was huge help to see what I was doing wrong 
     Kevin G, for the packing class and general advice.

Tyler Graff 10-31-10

What I like most about skydive orange:  I wanted to skydive for the same reason your  reading this, FREEDOM, ADRENALINE, FEAR, EXCITEMENT, and to set yourself FREE. I have never felt so free, and I owe everything to everyone at SKYDIVE ORANGE!!!  There are so many people to make you feel like family that it is overwhelming. THANK YOU STEVE, NED, PAM, HANK, CHARLIE, EILEEN, BRIAN, BOYSEN, AHMAD, TANYA, ROB, ALL OF THE PACKERS, AND STAFF!! All of the staff puts in 110% to make sure you get what you need to succeed.

My advice for new students: Dedicate yourself to be the best! Learn as much as possible, spend as much time  there as you can, and put yourself out there. This sport will change your life, and there is too much knowledge at SKYDIVE ORANGE to not listen!! Prepay if u can, and have FUN!!!!

What I don’t like: WIND!

I have no doubt that SKYDIVE ORANGE was the right place for me to learn how to be a safe skydiver!!


Clifton, VA

Christina Tacoronti
A License Date: 10/02/2010

Silver Spring, MD

Skydive Orange is a great place to learn how to skydive. It's so much more than attentive, knowledgeable, and friendly staff. It's a sense of welcoming comradery that is found few other places. Plus, jumping is so much fun! Who knew the rush of the wind hitting your face and the sensation of free fall would be so addictive and freeing? So if you are thinking of starting the AFF program, all I can say is do it! Skydive Orange offers a safe, fun, and conducive environment to learning the sport--just be sure to prepay!

Suggestions for Skydive Orange: No pink helmets. 







Name- Nick Hartig
A license date- 10/2/10

Manassas Park VA

What  I liked the most- Skydive orange is an awesome place to be. The instructors and coaches do an excellent job at teaching students. Great facility and gear if you don't have fun its your own fault.

Advice for other students- Pay attention to everything your coaches and instructors say. Ask as many questions as possible. Definitely camp out there on the weekends.

Advice you wish you had been given- None the instructors do great job at covering a lot of information.

Adam Gran
A License Date: 09/03/2010
Stafford, Virginia

What I like about Skydive Orange

What I like most at skydive orange are all the friendly instructors, staff, and the other licensed jumpers.  Steve, Bryan, and Pam are awesome and I believe they deserve a raise. You have Category A and B to figure out if skydiving is something you're interested in. After that if of course you can afford it, I recommend prepaying for it all.  you will save a bunch of money and it will also relieve a little stress from having to constantly pay for each category. 

Start packing as soon as possible. That is one thing I wish I wouldn't have waited so long to do.

I don't have many cons about orange. I do wish there was a bigger food selection besides the vending machines but that's just getting picky.



Dustin Shelly

A license: 9/18/10

Maurertown, Virginia

I loved skydive orange the most because of the staff.  SUPER AWESOME people that you get to learn, interact and become friends with.  Couldn’t ask for better teachers, mentors and friends.  The whole “AAF license” experience wouldn’t be as good without the people at skydive orange.

The advice I would give to other students in the AFF program is have fun, your skydiving man.  Relax and get all the advice from as many different instructors as you can.  They are all good.

The whole skydive staff is awesome, Steve and Pam are exceptionally good and are two people that I owe a great deal to.  Like I said the whole staff from Ned to Boyeson are great.  Thanks to all at Skydive Orange to helping me get my “ A” license. Skydive Orange is AWESOME and so is SKYDIVING

Jess Rutkowski

September (It’s about friggin time!) 18th, 2010

Fairfax, VA

What I LOVE the most about Skydive Orange: 
So, as you’ve read repeatedly in all the other graduate comments, the common answer is ‘The People!’  I’ll be a little different and say that jumping out of the Otter is pretty freakin sweet and what I truly love the most about Skydive Orange… of course, it wouldn't be possible without all the really cool and amazing people here at Orange.  Everyone here is just so very friendly and welcoming you can’t help but to feel good while you’re here.  Safety is paramount at Orange, along with a huge focus on fun – and it’s obvious from all the smiles you see on everyone’s faces!  So, you got me, maybe my answer isn’t really that much different than any of the other graduates after all.  :)

Advice for other student skydivers:
Do NOT over think it!  SMILE!!!!  RELAX!!!! 

ALL jumps are fun – whether you have to repeat them or not.  You can be your own worst enemy and defeat yourself if you focus on pass/fail or money.  Trust me!  Don’t set yourself up for failure before ever boarding the plane… just go back and read my first piece of advice – it’s first for a reason. 

Go at your own pace – you are doing this for YOU, nobody else.  People may progress faster than you but so what!  This is certainly not a race.  Take it from someone who thought she was going to be in the student program forever; you will get through it and when you do it will just be that much sweeter!

If you can, go to the tunnel with Lambert!  (Whether you're having issues in a category or not.)  I had issues in CAT C – and 30 minutes in the tunnel helped me immensely.  It may ‘seem’ expensive – but think of the cost of repeat jumps and the hit your confidence takes.  It’s more than worth it in the end!  (Plus, Lambert is amazing if you haven't already had the chance to figure that out first-hand... you’ll now have a great opportunity to do so!)

Learn to pack early! It’s not rocket science, but it is certainly a skill that requires practice.  Rob and Kevin are awesome at teaching this skill – and I was probably one of the harder students to teach as I just couldn’t visualize it.  Obviously it all worked out as I’m here writing about it!  ;) 

Pay attention when everyone is gathered around the hanging harness. Just because your turn may be ‘over’ you should still be there watching and listening.  A question/issue may be presented you may not know the correct way to handle, or have ever thought of, that could potentially save your life. 

Once you start, stay current!  I had some issues towards the end of my progression (life happens sort of things) that kept me away for awhile and I really hate that I lost those (way too many) months in the sky.  Staying current keeps you safe, keeps others safe, and keeps your skills constantly improving. 

Hang out after jumping and take advantage of the after hours bonding time, as I’ve heard it is not to be missed. Unfortunately I’ve not been able to really take advantage of all that Orange has to offer when it comes to this and feel I may have really missed out on some great opportunities during my student progression to learn some things not only about skydiving but life in general. I hope to be able to someday rectify this! 

Prepaying is an awesome deal if you can afford it.

Everyone hates the purple - I really dig it!  Learn to like it cause you're going to be spending lots of time in it.  Remember, it could be much worse so don't give Ned any ideas!  ;)

Oh, did I mention: SMILE!!!!  RELAX!!!!  This skydiving thing we're doing is actually pretty FUN!   

Listen to Steve!!!!  :)

Advice you wish you had been given:
I really wish someone would have told me how freakin fun skydiving was like 20 years ago!   

What I don’t like about Skydive Orange:
What’s not to like?  Well, I wish it were closer and that I could spend more time there… but that’s not really anything you have any control over Ned.

Suggestions for Skydive Orange:  
Maybe this will be worked out once (when?) the new hanger is built; but seriously, a place for students to put their stuff without always feeling lost and like they’re in everyone’s way would be GREAT!  

I would just like to personally thank Ned, Steve, Charlie (for especially keeping his sense of humor through all the challenges I presented - c'mon why should I make things easy? ;)), Lambert, Pam, Boysen and Tanya!  I truly appreciate everything you each have done to help me along the way.  Thanks to everyone in manifest for everything you do, the packers, pilots, and all the other Instructors/jumpers for their advice and assistance along the way.  Achieving my A License didn’t come easy for me and was one of my greatest accomplishments.  It’s proved to me that I really can do anything!  Thank you all so very much!

Chester Nielsen

28 August 2010

Arlington, VA


Although the instruction provided by the AFF Instructors at Skydive Orange gave me the requisite techniques or tips for my upcoming category jump, the relaxed convivial atmosphere was what allowed me to feel at ease, and more importantly execute, the maneuvers in what can be considered a less than natural act.  In this light, whether a Student, or a jumper with 5,000 jumps, the collegial atmosphere did not lend itself to braggadocios behavior.  Rather, it provided an environment where questions were welcome and answers were plentiful.

Steve, the individual who runs the AFF program, evidenced a strong commitment to helping me obtain my license; often times explaining more nuanced techniques while under canopy that would allow for a more precise landing

Overall, learning to Skydive at Skydive Orange is easily best decisions I have made.  Although the upfront costs are daunting, the feeling of satisfaction in completing an A license juxtaposed with the fact that I can now travel around the world and jump at my pleasure is a rush in and of itself.

Vaughan Poe
A-license August 7, 2010

What I love about Skydive Orange?

Not to sound facetious, but, what is there not to like about Skydive Orange? As an AFF student, the entire staff was nothing short of superlative. From start to finish I felt that I was being taught by safe, competent, and experienced skydivers who genuinely gave a damm about my progress in the sport. Steve is the man; all day-everyday and twice on Sunday! Charley "darkness", Brian, Pam, Chuck, Tonya, Boyson, I appreciate your patience and guidance and most importantly; your friendship.

Advice for other students?

Have fun!! I started my jump course in March and finished in August (family emergency accounted for two of those months). However, another great impediment was the weather. I spent a lot of weekends on the ground watching high winds; this was to my benefit. High winds are a much better experience when you are already safe on the ground as opposed to trying to get safely back to the ground from 13.5k ft. Learn to pack early. Orange has some of the best riggers in the area, and they even work well with "tards like me" (thanks Rob). 

Become a fixture, not just a product of a process. Meaning, Orange has a "unique" mesh of personalities, experiences, and interpersonal opportunities. Take advantage of everything offered, don't simply disappear after the jumps are done. The Tiki Bar is where friends are made (and lost). Get in there!!

Notwithstanding the "incidents" that I have witnessed during my tutelage at Orange, the place still rocks! One MUST always be mindful of the known and accepted FACT that Skydiving is an inherently dangerous sport. Things will happen. Don't bitch up, just jump! I really did have an excellent experience at Skydive Orange. I don't think you can honestly place a price tag on the experience I received from this team of professionals. I have made several new "authentic friends", learned to skydive, and built experiences that I hope to reflect positively upon for years to come. 

What I don't like?

My only recommendation: maybe designate a "student trailer" in the lot? This would be for a guy/gal who prepays ($3k upfront), consistently makes the drive to be on site, ensures everyone goes to bed well fed and beveraged, and simply needs a spot in which to "solidify friendships." I'm just saying....

SOI, thank each of you for your individual contributions to Poe's introduction into the sport of a lifetime. Semper Fidelis...




Linda Peters
July 17, 2010
Roanoke , VA

The best thing about Skydive Orange is the people and instructors. Everyone, and I do mean everyone, is warm, welcoming and supportive. The instructors care and want you to pass, they want you to relax, and most of all, they truly want you to experience the fun and excitement that this sport is all about. Thanks to each of them for their patience and support.

If I had any advice, RELAX. Must have heard that word about 200 times.

No one is going to let you do anything you’re not ready for, and if you repeat a few jumps, who cares! Everyone runs into some maneuver that gives them difficulty. Keep going, it will fall into place.

Make sure you COMMIT to the program. Jump every weekend, and make as many jumps each day that you can. It will make you progress more quickly, feel much more confident and solidify the skills you’re learning in each category. Besides, it’s fun! The farther along you go, the more the sky opens up. It really does get better than you could’ve imagined.

Learn to pack early. Take a class, realize it’s going to suck, but each time you pack it will get that much easier. I’m still on that journey.

Can’t think of anything but wind and weather holds to complain about, but no one can control that, and you can use the time to prepare and take exams.

Nothing left to say except DO IT. This has been one of the most amazing experiences of my life. There is nothing else like it. Believe me, you will never look at the sky the same way again!





A license date: 07/17/2010

Great Falls, VA

Mike Keirnan

Had a great time learning from the staff at Skydive orange. Everyone was always helpful. The people here are great and everyday at the dz has been fun and educational. I would advise other student skydivers to take advantage of the prepay option, good value if you want to get your A license. No advice I can think of I wish I had been given. Nothing I can think of I disliked about Orange. Thanks for everything, I had a blast!

Preston Higginbotham

Fairfax, VA

A License Date:  7/11/2010

What I like the most about Skydive Orange

Skydive Orange isn't just a place where people come to jump out of airplanes, it's a community.  Everyone there is like a family.  Although it is a place for people to skydive, that seems to take a backseat to the relationships and friendships formed there.  After skydiving hours are when you really get to know the people at Orange; everyone has a story to tell.  As a student, everyone is willing to help you out, and cheers you on.  Despite the constant "Don't screw up" or "Stop embarrassing me" comments from people like Corey and Bryan, you know they are really there to help you. 

Advice for other student skydivers

A few pieces of advice.  First, If you can afford it, prepay the AFF program.  It is a lot of money, but it really helps to motivate you to finish the program.  Plus, every time you go you don't have to pay, and it almost feels like its free.  I want to thank Visa for the support in this department.  Second, learn to pack early.  Don't let it be the last thing that keeps you from getting that "A" stamp.  Third, be patient.  There will be times when you can't jump, but tandems and experienced jumpers are going up load after load.  Take this time to learn how to pack or to talk to other skydivers or the riggers.  You can learn more about the sport from just hanging around the hangar than any video on youtube, or wikipedia article.  Or read your SIM on the down time, that is like your bible.  Finally, don't get too frustrated or down on yourself if you have a bad skydive and have to repeat a jump.  While you may have tumbled for 6,000 feet, or spun like a top, every jump is still fun, and remember you just did something that 99% of people in this world will never do, jump out of an airplane.  Go back up and do it again.  Even a bad skydive is still fun!  You will get better.  Take that from me who had 5 (it should only take 2) Cat D jumps....You won't be perfect, in fact I'm still told to learn how to arch.

Advice you wish you had been given

Don't try to show off on the balance board in front of a hangar full of tandem students and fun jumpers.  I still have the bruise to show you.

What I don't like about Skydive Orange
No A/C in the hangar.  I know it wont happen, but I can dream.  Those purple

Logan Donovan, June 27, 2010-

What I love about Skydive Orange:
I can't say enough good things about this place, I have even changed my work schedule for the summer so that I can spend more time jumping there. Everyone on staff and the fun jumpers are awesome and extremely welcoming to people just getting into the sport. Hanging out with everyone at night can be just as much fun as jumping during the day. Just about everyone is happy to answer questions and ask how your last jump went. 

Advice for other students:
Everyone will tell you that I am the queen of over thinking and stressing about things. It really doesn't help you, take a deep breath and trust in your training and instructors. Even if you don't get everything in, repeating a jump will only make you a better diver. Getting on a load with Hank and Trey can also fix that problem, no shortage of laughs there. Remember that you are doing this because it is fun, so act like it - SMILE.

If you want to do the AFF program, I highly recommend that you prepay. First of all, it will guarantee that you come out and finish the program. Secondly, it is a great deal with the 12 free jumps and equipment rental included. Third, having already paid will make it easier to do multiple jumps in a day because you won't have to deal with the hesitation of forking over the cash each time. I can't tell you how highly I recommend that you try to make multiple jumps in a day/weekend, at least once you get to Cat C when you have multiple jumps in a category. It makes each successive jump much more comfortable and allows you to focus on your skills instead of your nerves. I did all but 3 of my jumps in the span of 3 weeks, which I think made me a much better jumper than if I had spread it out. It allowed me to directly apply what I had just learned instead of waiting a week. Admittedly though, condensing AFF into three weeks is a bit excessive. 

Skydiving, at least to me, is not a casual sport - not something you do once every few weeks. Technically, there is nothing stopping you from doing that but going that long with out jumping, especially as a new jumper, can be dangerous. So think about how much you want to commit to this sport before you dive in. If you decide that you want to, as I did, you will not regret your decision in anyway.

Learn to pack ASAP and get your category quizzes in to avoid nasty looks from your instructors... Be proactive.

Take the harness seriously, it could literally save your life. 

Read the SIM and take in the information, don't just regurgitate it for quizzes - you are learning these things for a reason.

what I don't like:
Finding rigs that fit me for each canopy size was a challenge sometimes and I have the bruises to show it from a few hard openings. You can ask to put a canopy in a different rig to fix this problem though if you be there for the weekend. AC in the summer heat would be a plus but the best AC is a ride to altitude. Waiting for a wind or a weather hold is frustrating but that has nothing to do with the DZ itself.

Thanks to everyone at Skydive Orange for a great experience, its really one of my favorite places now. Jumping has changed my life, and I can't wait to keep getting better.

Logan Donovan


Charlottesville, Virginia


Mike Beaman

Vienna, VA

What I like the most about Skydive Orange
The fun/relaxed atmosphere and all the other skydivers and instructors are the best part about Orange.  Everyone at Orange is there to have a good time and no one wants to ruin anyone else’s day.  Whether or not they work there, someone is always offering help if they see you having trouble with something.  Being about to take advantage of learning something is great when the winds are up.  There’s rarely a “usual” day at Orange, meaning something new and interesting is always happening whenever you show up.  The night life after diving is a lot of fun as well, never a dull moment haha.

Advice for other student skydivers
Listen to EVERYTHING and ASK QUESTIONS.  Learning about skydiving and all your gear is helpful and important.  Know how to do your own gear checks successfully when the time comes. DO THE PACKAGE PLAN.  I know it is a lot of money (had to think about it a lot myself) but well worth it.  Paying jump by jump is annoying so just get it all over with at first and feel good about the 12 free
jumps you earned.

Relax! The hardest part about starting to jump is being tense and preventing your body from being in the right position and giving your mind the freedom and ability to make the right decisions.  There is plenty of time and space between you and the ground so relax and enjoy the ride. Be ready for whatever category training you are getting that day.  As in read your SIM!  There is very important info in there that reading
ahead of time could help imprint in your brain. If you are not sure of what the dive plan is, ASK.  No such thing as being over prepared for the skydive.  Don’t forget the landing pattern…very important.
Know when to buy beer, and don’t forget.

Don’t be too hard on yourself when receiving criticism.  Everyone makes mistakes no matter how big.  Just learn from what you did wrong and don’t do it again. Failing a category is not the end of the world.
Learn how to pack as early as possible.  I didn’t…but wish I had.  
You can make a lot of money if anyone needs a pack job during down time when you are on student    
When it is cold bring thermal clothes
Be social
Advice you wish you had been given
Beer money will add up.
Jumps start early, so get some good sleep
Get good at poker

What I don't like about Skydive Orange
 Purple jumpsuits for students. but that’s all

Lots of special thanks go to:

Ned for all the scheduling and information about becoming a student!

Steve H for all the training and knowledge he has given me from the beginning, as well as the great food he cooks for anyone staying the night. Thanks for keeping me organized and informed.

Bryan Kellogg was my instructor from Cat B through F and taught me so much from the first jump we did.  Really nice guy, and very helpful when it comes to critiquing body position or whatever else anyone has
questions about.  Deserves a lifetime supply of McDonald’s coffee. 

Lambert for a bunch of answers to questions I’ve come up with over time, tracking help, and all the pictures.  Great guy to know. 

Heady for answering a lot of questions about rigs and lots of other skydiving stuff

Nick for helping me with first rig questions and inspecting the rig I ended up buying.  Also did my first tandem with Nick in July 09, so thanks for the introduction into the sport.

Tanya for coaching me through G and H as well as helping me with check dives.

Pam for teaching me side slides and center turns… still working on those.

Rob for teaching me how to pack a parachute, it worked because I’m still alive haha.

Boyson for my 25th jump which was also his first coach jump…good combo

The rest of Orange, including Charlie, John Eames, James, Mary, Gigi,
French, and anyone else I (probably) missed, you guys are great.


What I liked best about Skydive Orange:
Because it can’t be said enough, the people are by far the best part of Skydive Orange.  But because it has been said below, the next best thing is the quality of the student program.  Students are taught everything they need to know, with safety as the number one priority, but are never overwhelmed.  If you get a chance to watch students or newly licensed skydivers from some other drop zones you find out quickly just how good Skydive Orange is.
Advice I wish I was given:
After making your first tandem jump, not continuing in the sport may not be an option (even if it is not personally the most financially sound decision).  Once you start, you may not be able to stop.
Advice for other students:
Prepay if you can, but if you are going to take the pay-per-jump route still try to move through the program as quickly as possible.  You will be amazed at how much more you learn and more comfortable you feel making multiple jumps in a day.  (This advice is coming from the person who might hold the record for longest time spent on student status.)
Finally, I want to thank Ned and all the staff, instructors, and packers at Skydive Orange.  I want to give a special thanks to Steve, Pam, Brian, Charlie, and Tanya who stopped me from doing anything stupid as a student, despite my constant efforts. Sent: Friday, June 18, 2010 

Michael J. McDonald
4 April 2010

Huntingtown, MD

What I like the most about Skydive Orange: No doubt – the people there.  An eclectic bunch from all walks of life sharing a passion for something and so excited they’re infectious.  Charlie was my primary instructor and was absolutely superb (particularly if you fall fast!).  Tanya’s dedication as a coach was clearly evident whether she was training for harness or a jump and her ability to explain simply and with enthusiasm was amazing.  They are both total professionals who know how to make learning fun while ensuring that safety was always the first consideration. 

Advice for other student skydivers:
1.       It’s not a race!  Doesn’t matter how long it takes you to get to the end of the journey – it’s what you learn along the way and how well you learn it.  Like all things aviation related – it’s an unforgiving environment and not cramming it all into a short time may ensure that it truly sinks all of the small details sink in, and stay in.  

2.       Be patient – there will be days when you won’t get off the ground because of winds or clouds below ceiling minimums, but there is plenty of learning that can still go on.  Again, it’s not a race. 

3.      If there’s an opportunity to go to the tunnel around the F/G/H phase – DO IT!  Even earlier if the timing doesn’t allow.  Yes, it’s expensive.  But you learn so much given a stable training environment with a stellar instructor!

4.      Ask questions – everyone will help, you just have to admit you need some help.  

Advice I wish I had been given: If you’re at all serious about your entry into the sport (and you probably are if you’re prepaying like I did), start doing research early for your equipment.  Custom rigs and canopies can take a LONG time from order to delivery and you don’t want to be wasting an entire Spring/Summer/Fall prime jumping season not jumping, or having to jump on rental equipment (decent stuff, but you’ll have to compete with other folks in your situation). 

What I don’t like about Skydive Orange: the return drive back home from jumping – too keyed up to sit in the too-often traffic jams!

Suggestions for Skydive Orange: It’s a dynamic and unstructured environment (kind of like a ski school behind the scenes), but…  I think some attention up front on the overall program presentation would go a long way in helping the new student know exactly how the program was going to work (and it does!).  And perhaps convince more of the one-time experience seekers that they should invest their time and money into a longer term commitment. 

Mike Williams

Alexandria, VA

When you come to Skydive Orange, one thing you can bank on is that safety is always first! Those early mornings in the hanging harness really help to instill the reactions required when something doesn't go quite as planned. The diverse staff couldn't be any better, and I always felt secure in my actions because I new that I was well prepared by my instructors and coaches. Steve Hetrick is truly an amazing man... if you adhere to Steve's words of wisdom, you can't go wrong.


My advice to other students is what has been repeated here many times... learn to pack early on in your progression. Take a packing class with Rob! Also, take advantage of the downtime, and sit down and talk to your instructors. There are many lessons to be learned, and not all of them are just about skydiving. Most importantly, have fun... because in the end, that's what its all about!


What's there not to like about Skydive Orange! I know its been said many times in other “graduate” posts, but what really makes Skydive Orange great is the people. The last few months I have spent at Orange have been some of my most memorable. I have made so many new and wonderful friends. Thanks to Tanya for introducing me to the next chapter in my life.

A final big thanks to Uncle Ned for everything he does to make Skydive Orange such a great DZ, and for being so helpful when it came time for me to buy my new rig.


Sean Tansey

Arlington, VA

I think one of the greatest things about Skydive Orange is the people.  The instructors aren't just there to do a job, they're there because they love what they do and they really want to help you progress. Beyond the instructors and support staff (who are all awesome), the jumpers at Orange are one of the most inclusive groups I've ever seen. There are no cliques, everyone is exceedingly willing to give you a hand if you have a question or problem. It is just a great thing when a guy with 6 jumps can sit and talk candidly and learn from a guy with thousands. 

As far as advice, I'd mainly say be patient and relax. I did my student program through the winter and I've lost count of the number of days the weather was too bad to jump, or the wind holds were too frequent and numerous. Take the time when you're on the ground to learn the SIM and talk to others who are just hanging around too. Also - go to the tunnel with Lambert if you get a chance, I did it after my first jump, and it made the rest of them a breeze. Oh and Prepay, it makes everything so much easier!

Adam Laird

Reston, VA 

I truly love skydiving more than anything else I have ever done before in my life. When I started out in the student program it wasn't easy for me at first to get my mind completely wrapped around the idea. In my mind I didn't seem to "get it" yet, but it was still fun and I had this passion about it. I figured out what my problems were with the help of all of my instructors, coaches, and fellow skydivers in order to strive to fix them. I literally thought about skydiving every chance I didn't have something more important tying up my time (and still think about it A LOT). I worked on what I could on the ground, but the true turning point for me was the wind tunnel.  I learned the importance of relaxing and not thinking about what you were doing, but just to do it. Not having to worry about altitude and or pulling a parachute gives your mind a lot more space to think about freefall. I had an hour and fifteen minutes in the tunnel before I graduated totaling to the equivalent of 75+ skydives (which helps more than you can image) and plan on getting as much time in the tunnel as I can afford. I also spent countless hours watching videos and reading accident reports to learn what not to do in the air from other people's mishaps.

What I truly love about Skydive Orange is the fact that we are all one big family. Everyone looks out for one another and safety is the number one goal closely followed by fun. I feel more at home in the hanger than anywhere else that I know. The best advice I can give to students is to always maintain a positive attitude about your performance, good or bad, because the second you let that slip is the second things start to mess up fast. Getting out of an airplane is no game obviously and getting out of an airplane without having your wits about you is dangerous. The only thing I regret about skydiving is that I didn't start sooner, but now that I have my license I plan on never stopping.

Thank you Skydive Orange. You guys have truly changed my life for the better and not a day goes by that I don't think about it.

Ken Haines
January 16, 2010
Harrisonburg, VA

From the first to the last Skydive Orange instructors and staff were focused on safety.  From the first jump course to the reviews in the harness to everything in between I felt safety was the number one priority.  I really liked jumping with different instructors and coaches, as I felt I learned things from each and every one.  The variety of teaching styles was a huge bonus.  All of the instructors were willing to spend extra time debriefing and reviewing things that I had questions about.

Prepay for your student course if you can.  Jump regularly.  Hang around after jumping for the day, you can learn a lot hanging around the bonfire or tiki bar after hours.



Click below for East Coast Skydiving certification program Graduates form other years-

2010 Skydiving Graduates  
2009 Skydiving graduates 2008 Skydiving graduates
2007 Skydiving graduates 2006 Skydiving graduates



Graduates and Instructors- Skydiving Students should fill out the information on this page whenever you sign off a new A license Skydiving Certification.

This list of skydivers who've just earned their certification only includes the most recent ones, since we just added this webpage in early 2005. There have been hundreds of certified skydivers who learned to jump here over the last 26 years that people have been skydiving here at Orange. Skydive Orange is the place to get certified for people in Virginia, Maryland, Washington, DC, and West Virginia. With the addition of a student skydive manager (Student sky diving operator) who manages repeat AFF operations, skydiving training operates more efficiently especially on busy jump days when we make lots of dives.


  By "Graduate", at Skydive Orange we refer to a person who has achieved their USPA "A" license skydiving certification and is therefore adequately trained in the basics of skydiving to be a competent, safe skydiver. If you compare us to other skydiving places, odds are they consider someone to be one of their "graduates" if they've just "graduated AFF" meaning they no longer need an instructor in the air with them. While not needing in air freefall assistance is a respectable milestone, it does not mean that that person is fluent in all the areas to skydiving to be able to make sound judgments on their own. Historically, those learning to skydive were allowed to jump on their own with minimal to no additional supervision after "completing AFF" (meaning the first 7 jumps) and all too often this resulted in the all too frequent appearance of the meat wagon at the drop zone, because all the attention those fun freefall skills didn't do anything to teach the details of canopy control.

Get 3 6 Free skydives when you graduate!


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