What is Tandem Skydiving?

February 15, 2024

what is tandem skydiving | Skydive Danielson


What Is a Tandem Skydive?

You’ve probably met someone who’s gone skydiving before, or maybe you’ve even thought of making the leap yourself. When people talk about their first jump, they are usually referring to a tandem jump. Even professional skydivers who are experts most likely started their journey with a tandem parachute jump. So, what is tandem skydiving


Tandem skydiving is the safest and most popular way to take that inaugural step into the sky because of the accessible nature of the experience. Skydiving tandem allows a complete novice to rely on the skills and expertise of a seasoned instructor throughout every phase of the jump. Tandem jumping has both increased the popularity of the sport and allowed more people to experience the joy of human flight than ever before.  


Want to know more about what happens in a tandem skydive? Let’s jump right in!


Tandem skydiving training and harness

Tandem Skydiving Meaning


Simply put, tandem skydiving is a type of skydiving where the student is connected directly to the instructor throughout the entirety of the skydive. More specifically, the tandem instructor wears a parachute on their back and the student wears a harness that is securely fastened at each shoulder and at each hip. The student is connected to the front of the instructor, facing away from them, and the two move as one unit during freefall, under parachute, and through landing. 


So, what is the difference between tandem skydiving and skydiving? Well, all skydiving is skydiving. But the big difference between tandem skydiving and regular, solo skydiving is that tandem skydiving involves two people connected to each other on a single jump. Both types of jumps get to altitude in an airplane, both freefall through the sky, drift to the ground under a parachute, and land at the dropzone, it’s just the number of people that makes the difference. 


Okay then, is tandem skydiving safer than solo? Tandem skydiving is the safest way to experience skydiving for the first time. This is because the inexperienced jumper has the benefit of being attached to a highly experienced instructor who controls every aspect of the jump. Not only are the instructors experienced, but they’re specifically trained and certified to handle all of the challenges that could arise during a tandem skydive. Why wouldn’t you want an expert there with you the first time you do something like jump out of an airplane? 


Your Tendem Skydiving Instructor


Arguably the most important part of your skydiving experience is your tandem instructor. Your instructor is the one who’s going to train you, gear you up, and guide you through your skydive. They’re responsible for successfully getting you to the ground, and making sure you are having the best time of your life while doing it! 

And that responsibility doesn’t come lightly. Tandem Instructors have done a lot of work to get to where they are, and they take their jobs seriously. Becoming a tandem instructor is a serious commitment that requires dedication, motivation, and passion. The minimum requirements to become a tandem instructor, as mandated by the United States Parachute Association (USPA), include:


  • Logging at least 500 jumps
  • Earning a USPA D license
  • Accruing a minimum of 3 years experience in the sport
  • Possessing a current FAA Class III Flight Medical Certificate
  • Completing the USPA tandem instructor rating certification program


In addition to these base requirements, our instructors are chosen because they love what they do and they value top-notch customer service. We want your experience with us to be both professional and a screaming good time. The first rule of skydiving is to have fun! 


Now, you might be wondering, "Is it awkward tandem skydiving?" After all, you’ll only have just met your instructor, and all of a sudden you’ll be closer to them than you’ve been to most people. We can see how this may cause a little bit of anxiety before your jump, but the truth of the matter is, there will be so many things going on that you won’t even be thinking about it. 


Your instructor has done this countless times, so being strapped to a near stranger is nothing new to them. And you’re about to jump out of an airplane. Not only will you be oblivious to pretty much everything besides the open airplane door, but you might even find some comfort in the knowledge that you have a professional glued to your back. 


Pro Tip: Get video of your jump! Your tandem instructor can bring a camera along on the skydive to capture the whole process, and there’s nothing like reliving that amazing moment for years to come. 



Tandem skydive exit airplane

The Skydiving Gear


The equipment that is used for tandem skydiving is specially made by industry-leading manufacturers to accommodate the unique needs of two people skydiving together. Decades of research and development have gone into creating the very best version of tandem skydiving equipment, and further advancements are being made every day. In fact, gear manufacturers are so committed to producing top-of-the-line tandem experiences that dropzones must adhere to certain regulations set by those manufacturers to even use the equipment. 


If you’re more of a details person, here’s the breakdown. The parachute system that your instructor wears is much bigger than one that a solo jumper would take on a regular skydive. Both the main and reserve parachutes are up to three times the size of those made for solo skydivers (that’s a lot of nylon!). Even the emergency backup mechanisms that are present in all tandem skydiving rigs are set to react at higher altitudes than those of sport jumpers, which allows for more time to deal with any issues that could arise during a jump. 


And fear not slipping from the front of your instructor – the connectors that are used to hook you to your instructor can carry thousands of pounds; more than enough to handle your weight and any forces that are caused by the opening of the parachute. Beyond the parachute system, you’ll be equipped with your harness, goggles, jumpsuit, and possibly even an altimeter, to match your instructor! 

Skydiving in ct

The Jump


Now onto the moment we’ve all been waiting for – the actual skydive! Knowing what to expect the day of your jump can help calm a lot of nerves associated with skydiving for the first time. 


The first thing you’ll do when you arrive is check-in and sign the necessary paperwork. Then it’s on to training and getting geared up before boarding the airplane to be shuttled to your jump altitude. From there, the jump is broken down into phases:


1. Exit 


This is where it gets real. You’ll move toward the open airplane door, the endless sky, the thrill of your life. Your instructor will position you in the door so that at least part of your body is hanging out of the plane. They’ll count to 3, and off you go! 


2. Freefall 


Hello, adrenaline! You’ll fall through the air at 120 mph with nothing but the sky and birds to keep you company. Your instructor will be there behind you the whole time making sure the two of you remain stable, and you can enjoy the sensations and views that are unlike anything else in the world. 


3. Canopy Flight 


Deep breath, the parachute is open. This is the quietest part of the skydive and an amazing moment to reflect on what you just accomplished. It’s so quiet that you’ll even be able to talk to your instructor. Take in the scenery and relish those last few minutes you have to bond with the sky while your parachute gently glides back to earth. Or keep the adrenaline going and ask your instructor to do some spirals! 


4. Landing 


Bittersweet touchdown. Back on the ground, but already missing the sky. You and your instructor will land in unison by sliding on your butt across the ground. You can take a moment to collect yourself and get your land legs back, or jump up and celebrate yourself! 


Every part of the jump is special and offers its own unique moments of bliss. The thing that makes skydiving so amazing is that you get to feel all of the sensations that each phase brings in one incredible experience! 


Want to make your jump even better? Bring some friends

Tandem Skydiving

I Loved My Tandem! What’s Next?


Your first jump doesn’t have to be your last, and for many people, it isn’t! Take it from us – we know what it feels like to come for one and stay for hundreds. A lot of the people you’ll meet at the dropzone, including your instructor, were once in your shoes. They just never stopped coming back! 


After you make your first tandem, the sky’s the limit (pun intended). You can keep doing tandem jumps as many times as you want, or you can even go on to get your skydiving license right here with the Skydive Danielson team. We have an extensive student program that will take you through your A-License and beyond. Maybe someday, you’ll be the tandem instructor who puts the air beneath a new skydiver’s wings!


You’ll realize there’s no shortage of possibilities once you leave that plane for the first time! Excited to start your skydiving journey? Come jump with us