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.

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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.

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 Tandem Jumps Before Solo

How Many Tandem Jumps Before Solo Skydiving?

Becoming a fully-fledged solo skydiver is a great achievement. By completing your skydiver training and gaining your skydiver license, you open up a whole world (quite literally) of opportunities. At Skydive California, we recommend one tandem jump prior to going solo, so you can get a sense of what’s to come, then it’s off to solo!

In our Accelerated Freefall program (AFF), you will begin with an extensive 4-6 hour class and begin your solo ‘category’ jumps. Once you complete each category, you will be cleared to solo status. However, you will need 25 total jumps before you earn your A License and become a certified skydiver.

learn to skydive aff accelerated freefall

Learning to fly with other people, adopting different body positions, becoming an advanced parachute pilot, learning to be a skydiving instructor yourself… all of this becomes available to you once you qualify as a solo jumper.

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To help you on your journey to becoming a solo skydiver, here’s a bit more information on what you need to do…

How many Tandem Jumps before solo?

  • We recommend 1 tandem before entering the AFF program

Skydiving Requirements to be a Licensed Skydiver?

  • There are 7 jumps in the AFF part of the program
  • You need to make 18 additional skydives to complete the jump number requirements for the A-license
  • Freefall and canopy skill requirements for the A-License and coach jumps are necessary for an A-license
  • Once you’ve completed all 25 jumps and passed the requirements and test, you can then receive your A license to jump on your own, that’s when your jump tickets become cheaper too!

What’s the best route to becoming a solo skydiver?

When we talk about solo skydiving, we’re referring to skydiving as a qualified jumper. This means you’ve completed your skydiving lessons and have been cleared to jump without the supervision of an instructor.

skydiving solo hop n pop skydiving

Getting to this point is incredibly rewarding. You’ll have completed ground training, then learned new lessons to prepare you for jumping solo. You’ll finish your course fully equipped with the basic information you need to keep yourself as safe as possible.

Many people choose to start this journey with a tandem skydive. This is where you’ll be strapped to a fully licensed and experienced tandem instructor, who will be operating the equipment and be in charge of the jump from start to finish. This can give you the chance to take in the experience of freefall without having to think about the things you need to do too much – which is why some people choose to do it before they learn.

That said, there’s no ‘best route’ to becoming a solo skydiver. When people ask us ‘how many tandem jumps before solo?’, we do recommend 1 tandem jump. That said, some choose to make more tandem skydives before embarking on becoming a solo skydiver. We do guarantee an exhilarating experience in the process! Check out this article on solo skydiving requirements.

Why become a solo skydiver?

Becoming a solo skydiver means you have the freedom to jump without needing the supervision of an instructor. It recognizes that you have completed your training and are able to take responsibility for yourself and for your equipment.

What this means practically speaking is that you’ll have a skydiving license, which you can use at any USPA affiliated center. It’s your proof that you’re an experienced jumper.

It also means that you can start thinking about your progression as an experienced skydiver. You’ll be able to start learning new skills – things like flying in a formation with others or using different body positions. You can even consider competing as a skydiver, which could take you all over the world!

skydiving positions formation skydiving rw skydivers

The possibilities are endless as a solo skydiver. If you’re interested in learning to jump solo, check out our Learn to Skydive page, or get in touch with us, and we’ll be happy to answer any questions you may have.

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How Many Jumps Before Solo Skydiving?

OKC AFF Skydiving

Disclaimer: we can’t really tell you how many jumps you need before you’re skydiving solo at Oklahoma Skydiving Center. It depends! Everyone is a little different. The lazy answer is “none,” because you can do your very first skydive with your own parachute if you forego a tandem to start with level one of a skydiving training program — but even though you have your own parachute, you’re not really jumping alone. You’ll have two instructors with you from start to finish. The easy answer, then, is “a minimum of eight,” but that’s rarely ever the case.

How We Teach Skydiving at the Oklahoma Skydiving Center

We teach new skydivers the ropes using the tried-and-tested United States Parachute Association’s Accelerated Freefall (“AFF”) method. This is a solo skydiving training method that’s been a resounding success since its debut many moons ago. It’s described in this little presentation (second tab from the left) on the United States Parachuting Association website. We teach this way because it’s efficient, effective and way fun!

How Many Jumps Before Solo Skydiving?

It’s All About Mastery

There’s even more to learning to skydive than jumping, as it turns out. There’s more to the matter than the simple number of jumps you do before you can skydive solo. The AFF experience at large includes a classroom-based ground school, eight levels of mastery and a few more supervised jumps afterward before the you’ll grab the brass ring of that magical, coveted A-license.

The mastery we’re talking about is the mastery of skills that you’ll need to demonstrate on each AFF level. Your instructor’s evaluation of your mastery determines if you move on to the next level or repeat the one you’re on. The number of jumps it takes to get to true “solo” depends on your technique, your focus and your determination. So, basically: It’s up to you!

How Much Mastery Are We Talking About, Exactly?

Don’t worry; we don’t expect you to be perfect right out of the gate. As in any well-run training program of any type, from extreme mountain unicycling to bonsai trimming, our OKSC AFF students don’t progress to the next level until they’ve demonstrated mastery of the level they’re currently performing.

As there are eight levels within the AFF curriculum, each with a determined set of skills to be mastered and demonstrated, you can expect to jump at least eight times. However, most people don’t do it that quickly. Most students jump a couple of times at each level.

What if you could turn your flying dreams into your flying reality? You can — and we want you to do it with us, via the AFF program at the Oklahoma Skydiving Center. Reserve your place today!




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