Aright, so you have been thinking about making a skydive. But now you are trying to figure out how to make it possible. Maybe you are wondering what the difference between a tandem and solo skydive are. And which one should you make? Don’t worry, at some point, many of us have been in the same position as you. Lets take a look into the difference between a tandem and solo skydive. Soon you will be on your way to feeling total freedom and enjoying how absolutely amazing skydiving is!
Difference between tandem & solo
So first thing, and maybe its obvious, or maybe not. Tandem refers to two things together, or working together. And so, a tandem skydive means you will be jumping along with someone else, attached to them. On the other hand a solo skydive refers to you jumping with your own parachute attached to you and only you. But don’t freak out just yet, you WILL NOT be making your first solo skydives completely alone. Of course this would be crazy. When making your first solo skydives you will be jumping alongside skydiving instructors. Everyone will be wearing their own skydiving equipment and parachute.
If you are considering to become a licensed skydiver, well first of all, congratulations on your decision! Skydiving is an amazing sport, and has changed many of our lives for the better! So of course it is understandable if you want to get your license, you will want to start making solo skydives. However, most skydiving centres (drop zones) require you to make a tandem skydive first. The reason for this is because skydiving is an intense, adrenaline packed experience. Since you have never jumped from an airplane, you don’t know how you will react. It is a good idea to make a tandem to see what your reaction is. This way, someone else is in charge of the experience, and if you freak out, its okay because somebody else will ensure a parachute is over your head and you get to the ground safely!
Does tandem and solo skydiving feel the same?
Once you have experience with skydiving, yes, it does feel more or less the same. However, at the beginning this is not going to be the case. A tandem skydive takes a lot of pressure off of you. It is scary jumping out of an airplane at the beginning. So when you are making a tandem, you are able to deal with the these scary thoughts, without the pressure of performance. There is no pressure or responsibility to make sure you perform in freefall or deploy your canopy. You just get to enjoy the skydive without thinking too much.
On the other hand, when making a solo skydive you have a lot more responsibility. You also went through much more training, and this could all be flashing before your eyes during the plane ride up to altitude. During free fall your brain is going to be thinking a lot differently than someone making a tandem. You will also feel what it is like to deploy a parachute, which is super cool being the one to put a canopy safely over your head. Not only that, but you will be landing your parachute by yourself! Once you land on the ground, not only are you going to be thrilled with the experience. But you are also going to feel the pride and accomplishment of completing your own first solo skydive.
What is a tandem skydive?
More often than not, a tandem skydive is how most people are going to make their skydives. In general most people try skydiving out once or twice, and it is done by tandem. The reason for this is because you get to have the experience, without having to take the responsibility. The passenger does not need to take the in-depth training which is required to skydive by oneself. The passenger can focus on the experience and your trained tandem instructor is the professional in charge of the skydive.
For a tandem skydive, your instructor will wear the skydiving equipment with the canopy and back-up reserve parachute (in case of emergency). You, the passenger, will be wearing a harness which is then attached by four points of connection to your instructor. Once you leave the airplane, the position will be belly to earth, with you underneath your tandem instructor. During the free fall you will experience approximately 50 seconds of free fall before the parachute is deployed. The tandem instructor will deploy the parachute and once your canopy is over head you now will be soaring through the air under a giant piece of nylon! Once under canopy you will likely be able to steer the parachute. However, during landing, your tandem instructor will be doing all of the work required to get to the ground safely.
If you would like a more detailed description of the whole experience of a tandem skydive. Check out our blog post How to Make Your Tandem Skydive. This step-by-step guide will give you all the information you will need to know about what will happen during the day of your first tandem skydive.
Does it require training?
No, you are not required to take training to make a tandem skydive. The day that you arrive to make your tandem, you will be given a briefing for what the tandem instructor expects from you as a passenger. It is important to listen to their instructions because they are the professional in charge of providing you with a safe and exhilarating experience.
How much training does the tandem instructor have?
Don’t worry, your tandem instructor is a trained professional. There is a certification and rating system in place within the skydiving world, which must be adhered to strictly. Each tandem instructor must meet certain criteria. Some of which includes:
- 18 years and older
- 500+ skydives
- Minimum of 3 years in the sport
- Hold a D-license (highest license issued through USPA)
- Pass a FAA Class 3 Medical (same medical required for private pilots)
- Successfully pass a tandem licensing course by the USPA
Can I jump with my friend?
No, you will not be able to make the actual skydive with your friend. However, it is likely that if you book your tandem skydive together, you will be on the same plane ride to altitude with one another. Because skydiving has many practises to ensure safety, you cannot send both of you out together at one time. There will be separate jumps. Although, during the plane ride you can talk and see your friend. As well, perhaps while under canopy, your tandem instructor will be able to point out which canopy your friend is under!
Can I bring my GoPro?
No, you cannot bring your own GoPro on your tandem skydive. Although, there is options to get videos of your tandem skydive. Check with the drop zone for the video options. They can range from your instructor wearing a wrist mounted camera, to a videographer skydiver jumping with you and your instructor taking video around you guys.
What is a solo skydive
Okay, so obviously a solo skydive means you will be jumping solo. However, what isn’t as obvious, is the fact you wont actually be alone. So when you make your first solo jumps (yes plural). You will just jumping with Accelerate Free Fall Instructors (AFF Instructors). You each will be wearing your own individual skydiving equipment, which you are responsible for deploying and you will have your own skydiving canopy to fly.
Can I make only one solo skydive?
Generally speaking, if you are making a solo skydive you are probably interested in getting your skydiving license. Unlike a tandem, making solo skydives becomes more expensive (in the beginning) and requires much more training. This is because you will be paying for the training, your jump ticket, gear rental and the instructors jump tickets as well. If you are only looking to make one skydive, its probably a good idea to just stick with a tandem, because to start jumping solo requires a lot of additional work.
For making solo skydives, you first need a full day ground course and following this you will complete an AFF course. During the course, you will make a minimum of 7 jumps along side AFF instructors. Check out a more detailed look into getting your skydiving license here. I suppose yes, you could just complete the ground school, and then make the first skydive jump and stop. So in this sense you can make “one solo skydive“. But chances are you are going to have the desire to finish your skydiving course and become a licensed skydiver!
Don’t forget, most drop zones are going to ask you to make a tandem skydive before you make your first solo skydive. This is not always the case, but its very common.
If I come with my friend, can we jump together?
No, if you and your friend decide to come and take a solo skydiving course, you will not make your jumps together. Imagine how crazy that would be? Two people with no experience skydiving together!? However, if you sign up together, you can do your ground course training together, and prepare for your first skydives likely at the same time. Perhaps you might even be on the same plane ride up, but will not be jumping at the same time. The cool thing about this is you have some moral support from someone who is in the exact same shoes as you. And you can celebrate together after you first solo skydive. What a cool experience it would be to both get your skydiving license together!
Can I bring my own camera?
Most people do not know this, however in order for a skydiver to jump with their own camera, they must have a minimum of 200 skydives! The reason for this is simply safety. Skydiving is an intense sport, and you need to be focusing on performing a safe skydive from leaving the plane to landing your canopy on the ground. A camera can be a distraction from a skydive. As well, it can also be a hazard, and in general it is thought that if a skydiver has 200 jumps, they have a bit more experience to make the correct decisions if this hazard causes an incident during a skydive. So the answer here is, no you can not bring your own camera. However, during solo skydiving AFF course, your instructors have their own cameras with them. This is because it is a great learning tool to show you how your skydive was performed and areas for improvement!
Keep coming back
Either way if you are deciding to make a tandem skydive, or to pursue a solo skydive and work towards your license. You are making a good choice. Skydiving is unlike anything you will ever do in your life! Maybe you will begin with the idea just to make a tandem skydive, but once you get to the ground, you will be addicted and want more. This is exactly what happened to me!
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