Tandem Skydiving Explained: What is a Tandem Jump?

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For those that are new to skydiving, you probably have a lot of questions about your first jump. You may have heard the term “tandem skydiving,” but aren’t really sure what it means. 

Or, maybe that word is completely foreign and you were simply curious about your first big leap: can you skydive alone your first time? How can you prepare?

Let’s learn a little about tandem jumping, and discover why it’s always the best way beginners can learn how to skydive.

What is Tandem Skydiving?

A tandem skydive is a skydiving experience where two people jump out of an airplane together, strapped to one another during the entire descent. The connecting straps make it so that one person is floating above the other during the freefall, with one’s back against the other’s frontside. 

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But there’s one other important distinguisher...

You Can’t Tandem Jump with Just Anyone!

You may have daydreamed about how exciting it would be to skydive with your best bud connected to you, but that’s not how tandem skydiving works. Tandem skydiving involves a certified instructor and a student— never two newbies! 

Your tandem partner will be a licensed skydiver, who went through some pretty rigorous training, such as making at least 500 jumps to earn their instructor title or spending at least three hours in freefall. Learn more about your tandem jump instructors qualifications here.

How Much Training Do You Need to Tandem Jump?

Since you’ll be jumping with a certified tandem instructor who will do most of the work during the landing, you’ll only need to attend brief “skydiving school” prior to the leap. 

You’ll watch an orientation video and go through a briefing with your instructor before getting geared up. Here you’ll learn a little about the equipment and how you can help your partner during the freefall and landing for the best experience. All of this can be done right before your skydive, so not a lot of training is necessary! 

Is Tandem Skydiving Safer than Solo Falling?

For first-time skydivers, tandem skydiving is absolutely the way to go. No skydiving center will let you jump alone on your first freefall, and even after a few tandem jumps! 

You can’t truly freefall solo until they’ve received an A-licenced from the United States Parachute Association (USPA). You’ll have to take formal classes, where you’ll eventually freefall with instructors by your side (holding your gear but not attached to you), until you are qualified to make the leap alone. This requires a minimum of 25 jumps, passing a written exam and more. 

Can My Friends Jump at the Same Time?

You can certainly share your skydiving experience your with your friends. You and your buddies can all ride up in the plane together, but when it comes to the actual jump, you’ll be strapped to your certified instructor. 

We also don’t allow tandem partners to jump at the same time, as a safety precaution. If you jump first though, you can watch your friend land!

Everything You Need to Know About Tandem Skydiving

If you’re interested in signing up for your first tandem skydive, read our other article on 6 Tandem Jump Tips for First-Time Skydivers to prepare for your freefall.

Then, head over to our massive resource page on tandem skydiving. This downloadable guide explains everything you need to know our tandem jumping, discussing your gear, instructor’s certifications and more.

Tandem skydiving guide

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: Tandem