How Many Jumps Before Skydiving Solo: A Quick Explanation

One of the most common misconceptions about skydiving is that you HAVE to start with someone on your back.

That’s absolutely not true!

You can skydive by yourself from your very first jump. You don’t need to do tandem jumps before you can skydive solo. However, while you start solo, it does take a while before you truly ‘skydive’ by yourself.

Personally, I’ve never had a skydiving instructor attached or holding onto me, but it was my 7 th solo jump that I truly consider my first skydive.

The 2 Ways of Learning to Skydive Solo

No matter where you go in the world, solo skydiving is taught in one of either two courses:

I’ve got a detailed comparison between these two here.

The type of course you decide to do will hold different experiences for you. In my opinion, ‘solo skydiving’ isn’t just leaving the plane on your own.

I would define a solo skydive as when you:

  • Jump out the plane yourself
  • Don’t have anyone holding on to you
  • Freefall up to terminal velocity (10 seconds or more)
  • Pull your parachute yourself

Let’s look at how far along each training course you need to be before you truly skydive solo.

Accelerated Free Fall: Jumps Until Solo Skydive

In AFF, you start right at the highest altitude. The idea is that your first jumps are done with your instructors jumping with you and holding on to you on either side (NOT fully attached like in a tandem jump).

The first few jumps go like this:

  1. AFF Jump 1: First Skydive. This is pretty much for the experience! You have an instructor on either side of you as you freefall from 10,000ft. They even pull the parachute cord for you – the skydiving equivalent of a butler.
  2. AFF Jump 2: Focus on Position. As above, but you start to practice your arch position with instructor supervision.
  3. AFF Jump 3: Released By Instructors. Just like #2, except once you’re in a stable position the instructors will release their hold of you. You’ll be on your own, but not for the whole jump.#
  4. AFF Jump 4: Solo Skydive. Finally, jump 4 is when your entirely skydiving solo! While you’re still under instructor supervision, they’re only there as a backup. You freefall and pull your chute totally by yourself.

4 jumps until getting your first solo skydive isn’t bad at all! From there, AFF quickly progresses into maneuvers and building up more jump confidence.

Now let’s take a look at the more old-school option.

Static Line: Jumps Until Solo Skydive

This method takes a very different approach – you jump entirely alone from the start, but with your parachute cord attached to the plane. This opens your parachute immediately, but removes any chance of freefall.

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Skydiver in static line course

You can see the parachute being pulled out by the static line!

The first few jumps go like this:

  1. Static Line Jumps 1 & 2: First Skydives. These are simply to let you enjoy the ride, and get experience flying the canopy yourself.
  2. Static Line Jumps 3 – 5: Dummy Pulls. Once you have some confidence, you begin to ‘fake pull’ your parachute cord to get you used to the action of pulling your parachute.
  3. Static Line Jump 6: First Freefall. The scary one! Instead of being attached to the plane, it’s now up to you to pull the parachute. However, you still pull it almost immediately.
  4. Static Line Jump 7: 5 Second Delay. As above, but you count to 5 this time. Still not at terminal velocity.
  5. Static Line Jump 8: 10 Second Delay. This is where you finally hit maximum freefall speed!

If you check back to the ‘requirements’ for a solo skydive above, it takes until the 8 th static line jump before I’d consider it a true solo skydive. At least that’s my own experience.

After the 10 second delay comes the 15 second one, and that’s even more intense! Though I’d still consider Jump 8 as ‘ticking the box’ for a solo skydive.


I hope this super-quick article has helped clear up just how many jumps you need before you skydive solo.

This is only my opinion, however! Some would argue that even the very first static line jump counts as a solo skydive, and others say there’s no real difference between a tandem jump and doing it yourself. At the end of the day, you’re still throwing yourself out of a plane!

Whatever the case, I do hope you at least understand how the solo skydiving courses work in terms of getting to that elusive solo jumping level.

If you’re preparing for or thinking about undertaking a course, make sure to check out the related articles below! I’m doing my best to build into a friendly resource for skydiving newbies.

How Many Jumps Before Solo Skydiving?

We have a goal here at Jumptown: To help people achieve their dream of human flight. You’ve probably noticed that we’ve designed a totally unique AFF Camp program in order to do just that. (For the uninitiated: AFF is a solo skydiving training method, described in this little presentation (second tab from the left) on the United States Parachuting Association website.) Doing a camp offers significant savings over the traditional AFF program (bonus!). Plus, it provides a focused, intensive learning environment from which we feel students greatly benefit.

When you read about the camp, it sounds kinda wild–you show up at 8 a.m. on a Thursday morning and you’re meant to be jumping solo by Sunday. You’re probably wondering how that works, exactly. How many jumps do you have to do before you’re skydiving solo?

As it turns out, that answer isn’t the easiest to pin down. It depends on you, your unique progression and how you define a “solo skydive.”


If you’re defining “solo skydiving” as the act of getting out of a plane wearing your very own parachute, then congratulations! You’ll be “solo skydiving” on your very first AFF (Accelerated Freefall) jump, the Category A. As you can see in that linked video, as an AFF student you’ll be accompanied by two instructors holding onto you, but you won’t be clipped to anybody else.

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The easy answer: Eight.

There’s more to it than that, however. And there’s more to the jumps than the jumps, as you’ll see when you arrive, coffee in hand, on that fateful Thursday morning. The AFF experience includes a classroom-based ground school, eight levels of mastery and a few more supervised jumps afterward before the student nabs that coveted A-license.

Did you catch that “mastery” bit in there? That’s where the zen lives. There’s a kinda sound-of-one-hand-clapping to the required jump numbers because it’s the mastery you demonstrate on each AFF level that determines if you move on to the next level or repeat the one you’re on. The whole thing depends on your technique, your focus and your determination. Wax on, wax off.

As in any well-run training program of any type, students don’t progress to the next level until they’ve demonstrated mastery of the level with which they’re currently engaged. As there are eight levels within the AFF curriculum, each with a determined set of skills to be mastered and demonstrated, you’ll jump at least eight times (and that’s if you’re a stone-cold natural). Most people jump a couple of times at each level, give or take, but it all depends on you. We set you up for success in the AFF Camp format because the focus is pretty much built-in.


Indeed it does, dear reader. Undertaking the challenge of learning to skydive, even in a program as legendarily awesome as our own, is no small row to hoe. It will require bravery, stamina, and heart, whether you breeze through the program in eight jumps or grit your teeth and take twenty. People learn at different rates and face their unique challenges in different ways.

So: Are you ready to become a skydiver? It may look daunting, but it’s not that big a leap. In your heart, you probably already are. What are you waiting for? Let’s do this thing.

Come book your first skydive at Jumptown and also check out Jumptown’s AFF Course!

When Can I Skydive By Myself

When Can I Skydive By Myself

Once you’ve had your first taste of skydiving, we bet you’ll want to come back for more!

Perhaps it’s the rush of the wind in your face as you fall through the air. Perhaps it’s the peace and tranquility you get under canopy. Or perhaps it’s the sheer blood-pumping adrenaline of jumping out of a perfectly good airplane that gets folks just like you addicted from jump one!

Whatever your reason for wanting to learn about solo skydiving, we’re here to help. Find out more here.

The first step to skydiving solo

The first step to skydiving solo is, more often than not, to try a tandem skydive first.

A tandem skydive means you are attached to a highly qualified instructor for your jump. Your tandem instructor is responsible for the operation of the equipment through the jump, so it means you have more time to take in the experience around you.

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That said, you’re known as a tandem student when you make a tandem skydive, which means, quite rightly, that you still play a part in the jump. Rather than being a simple ‘passenger’, you’ll be asked to adopt the skydiving body position for exit and freefall, and to lift your legs for freefall. You can even have a go at steering the parachute, if you like!

There’s really no better way to start your journey to skydiving solo than to try out a tandem first – find out about tandem skydiving at Skydive Newport here.

How many tandems before solo?

There are various different ways to learn to skydive by yourself. Some of them do start with a series of tandem skydives, during which you’ll be given equipment like an altimeter and you’ll use the time in the sky to become more accustomed to the experience. The idea here is that you’ll be better prepared to deal with freefall by yourself after you’ve done it a few times with someone else.

That’s just one way of learning to skydive, though. There are others that don’t include tandem skydives – in fact, you can technically learn to skydive without ever having made a tandem jump. It really depends on where you go to learn and the style of learning you choose.

Becoming a qualified skydiver

The whole process of becoming a qualified skydiver depends on where you learned and the course you choose. In some places, you’ll start off with a series of tandem skydives, as mentioned above. In others, you’ll start jumping solo from jump one, with two instructors accompanying you and having less and less input in your jump as you progress. In a few places, the ‘static line’ form of skydiving lesson still exists, this being a slightly older style of learning that involves an automatically opening parachute.

Whatever method you choose, you’ll be working toward a skydiving license. This is a small book, that looks like a passport, that says that you’re signed off to jump alone. If you opt to choose a United States Parachute Association (USPA) affiliated drop zone, you’ll be able to use your USPA license at any other USPA dropzone. You can even use your license to skydive overseas, as there are various USPA drop zones outside of the States too.

What you can do as a solo skydiver

Once you’ve got your license, there’s a world of opportunity available to you!

You can learn all sorts of new and exciting things. As a solo jumper, you can learn things like formation skydiving, which is where you make shapes in the sky with other skydivers. Freeflying is all about learning to fly on all axis. Then there are parachute based disciplines too, things like CRW (canopy relative work) which involves flying around and building formations with other parachute pilots.

Whatever your route to becoming a solo skydiver, we’re sure you’ll love every single step.




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