Ready to Solo Skydive? Skydiving License Requirements Explained

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Many first-time skydivers make the mistake of thinking they’ll be jumping out of an airplane alone... but that’s not how it works. 

Any novice’s first few plunges will be tandem jumps, where you’re safely strapped to a certified tandem jump instructor. But how many tandem jumps do you need before going solo?

In this post, we’re talking solo skydiving requirements: everything you need to know to become a licensed skydiver and freefall solo from any dropzone in the world.

Understanding the Tiers of Skydiving Licensing 


After you’ve made a few tandem jumps and caught the skydiving bug, you’ll want to study up on the varying levels of skydiving licensing.

Just like any expert invests hours-upon-hours of work mastering their craft, so too do certified skydivers. They go through rigorous levels of schooling and application to earn higher and higher ranks of skydiving status.

There are four tiers of skydiving licensing, including skydiving A through D licenses, each with more advanced instruction.

Good news though. For you to go solo, you’ll only need a skydiving A license.  

Solo Skydiving Certification Requirements

Generally speaking, your skydiving A license isn’t too extensive when compared to some of the more advanced levels of jump school (like getting your tandem instructor license!)— but it still requires a lot of studying, training and focus to achieve. 

You’ll have to take some skydiving classes and learn about a few important things, such as:

  • Your skydiving equipment, including all about your harness, parachutes, etc.
  • How to properly exit the aircraft and land
  • Proper body positioning and movement during freefall, including controlling your degree of turn, barrel rolls, front flips and backflips
  • Canopy skills with your shoot, such as how to control it during the descent and landing
  • Emergency simulations, i.e. what to do if something goes wrong

Here’s a sneak peek of the USPA’s A License Proficiency Card

You’ll see on the card some specific skydiving requirements like:

  • “Above 2,500 feet, perform a maximum-performance 90-degree toggle turn, followed immediately by a turn of at least 180 degrees in the opposite direction (two times)”
  • “Using an aviation winds aloft forecast, select the correct exit and opening point.”
  • “Change or adjust a main closing loop.”
  • “Jump and deploy while stable within five seconds after exit from 3,500 feet AGL.”

And that’s just a taste. Let’s look at what the United States Parachute Association lists as its requirements for solo skydiving:

  1. Complete all requirements laid out by the USPA A License Proficiency Card
  2. Complete a minimum of 25 jumps
  3. Make five skydives with one or more other people (tandem skydives)
  4. Pass the USPA written and oral exams
  5. Get skydiving license stamped by the USPA

That’s right. You’ll take classes, perform graded challenges and have to take a written exam before you can freefall by yourself. 

Solo Skydiving Classes

You’re probably curious about the skydiving classes you’ll need to achieve solo status. You’ll begin with ground school courses and ground instruction on equipment, parachute packing, and flight regulations.

Then, you’re ready for the sky. Your in-air classes are going to vary based on the skydiving center you choose, but if you enroll in the Freefall University here at CSC, we have seven levels of AFF (Accelerated Freefall) training jumps to learn how to solo skydive. Click each link for a video!

In addition to these observed 1-on-1 jumps with USPA coaches, you’ll leave with the smarts and skills you need to take your written exam and apply for your USPA A license with confidence. 

Ready to Go Solo?

If you’re ready to fly solo, you’re in luck. Our Chicagoland Skydiving Freefall University (Freefall U) can get you trained and certified in no time.

Click the link above to see our course dates and enroll today.

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Douglas Smith

Douglas Smith

Douglas Smith is CEO/President, and Guest Relations Associate at Chicagoland Skydiving Center. He has owned and operated the business since 2000. He has been skydiving since 1994, and in addition to leading the CSC Team, is currently an instructor, videographer and pilot for CSC.

Topics: Freefall University