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First Skydive – Tandem Skydive or Solo Skydive?

Skydiving Training

Wisconsin Skydiving Center Posted by: Wisconsin Skydiving Center 5 months ago

If you’ve been dreaming about embarking on the ultimate adventure – human flight – you’re no doubt curious about your first time skydiving options. Can you skydive alone your first time? And, if not, how many tandem dives before solo skydiving is allowed? These and other questions are super common, so let’s get into some answers.

Tandem skydiving is generally recommended for all beginners, but it’s not your only option. Many skydiving centers – including Wisconsin Skydiving Center – offer the comprehensive Accelerated Freefall (AFF)  program that teaches you how to skydive solo. In this article, we’ll explore tandem skydiving and AFF skydiving so you can decide which is best for you.

What Is Tandem Skydiving? 

What is the difference between skydiving and tandem skydiving? It’s all in that short adjective: tandem. Tandem skydiving is just skydiving, but done in tandem! 

A tandem skydive entails a total novice (you!) being securely harnessed to the front of a professional and highly experienced skydive instructor (us)! The instructor is in control of everything that happens during the jump and they have extensive training to expertly handle any situation that might arise during the skydive.

As a tandem student, you have little to do by way of pre-jump preparation, and you’re required to complete only about 20 minutes of ground training before boarding the plane. It’s a no experience necessary activity! 

Why Do People Choose To Go Tandem Skydiving First? 

Tandem skydiving is the safest, easiest, and most affordable way to complete a first skydive. In fact, most dropzones actually require at least one tandem to be completed before pursuing the idea of skydiving by yourself. But an overwhelming majority of people go with the tandem even when they have a choice. That’s because tandem skydiving checks a lot of important boxes:

It’s statistically safer!

Is tandem skydiving safer than solo skydiving? While skydiving solo is a lot less risky than you might expect, it is statistically safer to go tandem skydiving. For starters, instructors are required to have at least 500 jumps before earning their tandem instructor rating; they have a whole lot of training under their belt. It takes some pressure off!

It’s easy(ish)!

Training before tandem skydiving is minimal in comparison to the extensive training required before solo skydiving. And although the actions of the student still matter during a tandem, the instructor ultimately has control of the skydive. It’s very common to experience sensory overload on a first skydive. Put yourself in experienced hands while you work through the newness of everything to do with exiting an airplane for the first time.

It’s cheaper!

Our tandem skydiving rates start at $255 if you’re in the military, a student, or when you book with a group. The investment of time and resources is far greater to earn your license to skydive solo. A learn to skydive program typically costs between $3,000 and $4,000. (Note, though, that most dropzones offer a pay-as-you-go option for AFF training.)

Who’s Your Instructor?

To give you an idea of why people are keen on strapping themselves to a tandem instructor for their first jump, here’s a brief overview of tandem instructor requirements. All USPA (United States Parachute Association) certified tandem instructors must: 

  • Be 18 years of age or older
  • Have been in the sport of skydiving for at least 3 years
  • Have a minimum of 500 skydives
  • Earn the USPA D-license
  • Have an FAA Class III Medical License
  • Complete a rigorous tandem instructor course, inc. ground training and in-air skills tests

At Wisconsin Skydiving Center, we have additional criteria: a positive attitude and passion for sharing the big, blue world of skydiving with others! 

See why going tandem for your first time is an advantage? Not only is it safer (which, if you ask us, is a pretty big deal), but you can enjoy your jump more by letting someone else do all the hard work. There are views to be seen, feelings to be felt, and adrenaline rushes to enjoy! 

What is AFF Skydiving?

AFF stands for Accelerated Freefall, and it refers to the training program that every licensed skydiver is required to complete in order to achieve a class A skydiving license. The program consists of a series of jumps and levels that include ground training and in-air practice. 

Throughout AFF, students learn how to deploy their own parachute, remain stable in freefall, safely fly with other skydivers, steer and land their canopy, and pack and maintain their own gear. It’s an intensive course in everything required to be a safe and successful skydiver. 

So, how many tandems are required before going solo? Depending on the dropzone, this answer varies between 0 and 5. Every dropzone has the freedom to slightly customize the AFF progression, and the number of required tandems is one of the variables. 

At Wisconsin Skydiving Center, we require our AFF students to make one tandem skydive before digging further into the skydiving curriculum.

Woman learning to skydiving with AFF training at Wisconsin Skydiving Center near Milwaukee

Solo Skydiving Requirements

Now you may be wondering, in general, what are the solo skydiving requirements? Solo skydiving requirements are pretty straightforward. At Wisconsin Skydiving Center, individuals must be at least 18 years old and weigh no more than 200 lbs. 

What about medical issues? If you have any health concerns, such as heart, back, or shoulder issues, we recommend double-checking with your doctor about skydiving. Note that this is something we recommend for our tandem students, too.  

Tandem Skydive or Solo Skydive – Which is Best?

We require a tandem skydive before embarking on our solo skydiving training program. Why? We see the first tandem as a trial run that answers the questions, “Do I like skydiving?” And, “Can I handle the excitement of skydiving?” If the answers are yes (which they most likely will be!), then you can confidently start our Accelerated Freefall Program.

We’ve found that people completing their solo skydiving training tend to be more successful by doing one for fun before the serious learning starts. The first tandem can be done with a group of your friends or for an exciting milestone. And then, we get down to business!

Ready to achieve the dream and jump full-send from a perfectly good airplane ALL ALONE!? Book your tandem today! Blues skies!