What are the Differences Between a Tandem and Solo Skydive?

What are the Differences Between a Tandem and Solo Skydive?

Published: September 27, 2021

By far the most common way people experience skydiving for the first time is via a tandem jump, but what are the differences between tandem skydiving and jumping solo? Also, how do you go from one to the other? Skydiving alone and independently is a great goal to have, because everyone should know what it feels like to jump from an airplane - but at the start you need to learn what to do. This can happen in a few different ways...

Tandem Skydiving

Tandem skydiving was created as a way for people to get up in the air for a jump as quickly as possible - and with just the smallest amount of formal training. A student and a skydiving instructor are harnessed together piggyback style, and use the same parachute system to jump and then land back on the ground. The instructor's job is to handle the technical procedures such as deploying and flying the parachute, and the student's job is to soak up the awesomeness. After some creative and thorough testing in the early 1980s the concept was proven as solid, and we have been doing it ever since.

Tandem Skydiving

AFF (Accelerated Freefall)

Getting into skydiving as a solo jumper is a more significant investment of time and effort. The way most people work towards a license of their own is via an AFF (accelerated freefall) course. In this program you wear a solo parachute system from jump number one, but while you have a greater number of tasks to practice and a higher level of personal responsibility, two instructors jump with you and hold on to you during the freefall part for control and stability. As you progress through the seven stages of the course, you are given gradually more freedom as you gain competency with all the procedures - until you reach the end and are then able to jump truly solo.

ATP (Assisted Tandem Progression)

Assisted Tandem Progression is the middle ground between tandem skydiving and accelerated freefall. Every tandem skydive involves an instructor and a student, and although the pre-jump training is light and the tasks required are straightforward - the student is very much an active participant in the skydive going smoothly. ATP training expands on the idea that tandem skydiving is not just the best way to experience freefall for the first time - it is an excellent way to learn some of the foundational skills you require when aiming for a solo license. ATP training allows students to count multiple tandem skydives towards their progression goals, and transition across to AFF a little further down the road to qualification after practicing the relevant drills and skills.


Although the ways to get your start in skydiving are all slightly different, they are all very much the real deal - as this means the basic requirements are the same across the board. The United States Parachute Association requires you to be at least 18 years old, and you must have a valid, government-issued photo ID to cover the admin necessities. Also, there is a weight limit of 225 lbs (depending on body composition, you may be able to jump if heavier; call us) and you need to wear sensible clothing with lace-up shoes (think sneakers).

Skydiving Experience


The best way to experience skydiving for the first time is by doing a tandem jump, and this is our specialty! Tandem skydives allow you to really savor what jumping out of an airplane is really about, without being all loaded up with tasks. Your first jump is the most special of all, so doing it in the most enjoyable way will help you remember every detail - and position you correctly to build on what you have learned and experienced.

Im hooked and I know you will be too!

» Derek Eckhardt | Read More Testimonials