Going Solo: Do I have to do a Tandem Skydive First?

Do I have to do a tandem skydive first? It depends. While the United State Parachute Association (USPA) does not require any tandem skydives prior to starting a solo licensing program, each skydiving center can set their own policies and requirements.

Our most adventurous customers often want to know what it takes to jump out solo. If you’re a go-getter wanting to know how many jumps before you can skydive alone, if tandem skydives are required and how to get from tandem jumper to licensed skydiver going solo– read on.

Skydive Midwest offers 2 different licensing programs:

Accelerated Tandem Progression (ATP)Tandem skydives required

Accelerated Freefall (AFF)No tandem skydives required

Skydiving student smiles at camera in free fall

How many tandem jumps before you can go solo?

If a licensing program requires tandems, usually it requires 2 tandem skydives before transitioning to solos. 

Should I do a tandem skydive before going solo?

Even if a program does not require a tandem jump, you should still be asking yourself this question. While it might sound “cooler” to jump alone, it’s not the best route for most people. Most of our students find greater and quicker success in the Tandem Progression program.

Tandem skydiving student smiling coming in for landing

What are the benefits of jumping tandem before going solo?

Doing a tandem skydive prior to going solo allows students to become acclimated to the experience while under direct supervision of an instructor. A first skydive can be very overwhelming. Many people experience sensory overload and find it difficult to perform simple tasks in a high-stress situation. Jumping tandem takes some of that pressure off and tends to result in more successful jumps and expedited learning.

Doing tandems also allows a student to get hands-on instruction under canopy. For most people, learning to fly the parachute is the biggest challenge. Having and instructor present to guide you through the landing procedure as it is happening, makes a huge difference in making progress. 

The Tandem Progression program is also more efficient and cost effective for the student. AFF requires 2 instructors to be available to jump with a solo student while ATP only requires 1. More instructors mean more expensive jumps and longer wait times to accommodate the logistics of booking with multiple instructors. 

How do instructors ensure a trainee’s safety during the solo skydiving process?

The training program SDMW follows is one approved by the USPA. It is a well-structured method that has been used successfully for many years for the licensing of hundreds of skydivers at SDMW. All training is done in accordance with the requirements set by the USPA and the Federal Aviation Administration.  

However, skydiving is still an extreme sport and like any other sport, there are no guarantees of safety. Safety is the responsibility of all participants involved, including and especially the student. A student learning to skydive is accountable for taking the training seriously, applying themselves to learning the material, closely following instructions and making sound decisions about one’s own safety. 

AFF skydiving student opening parachute while instructor holds on

Which skydiving licensing program is right for me?

For most students, we recommend the Tandem Progression program. Only students who exhibit a high level of aptitude and competence will be considered for the Accelerated Freefall program. AFF candidates should demonstrate the ability to operate well under extreme pressure and in stressful environments- usually people with military or other experiences of similarly demanding training. 

Tandem skydiving in May

For more information on the ATP and AFF licensing programs, how each works, the differences between them, and pricing please visit: Get Licensed - Skydive Midwest

The first step for most people is a tandem skydive- Come get a feel for the sky! Book a tandem jump NOW! A tandem skydive counts toward your skydiving license. You'll be one step closer to achieving your skydiving dreams!


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