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The Many Different Types of Skydiving

Licensed Skydivers

You’ve probably heard of tandem skydiving. But did you know there are loads of other types of skydiving to enjoy too?

Tandem skydiving is, of course, awesome. There’s nothing quite like that first jump, and so often that jump is made strapped to a skydiving instructor who makes the whole experience super fun and chilled.

You can also learn to skydive by yourself, and once you achieve your license, there’s a world of opportunity awaiting! Whether you want to learn to make pretty shapes in the sky, fly on all angles or focus more on your parachute flight, there’s something for everyone, as we’ll explain here.

Tandem skydiving

Tandem skydiving is the most popular choice amongst first-time skydivers.

As a tandem skydiving student, you’ll be attached to an experienced tandem skydiving instructor. It’s their job to operate the equipment and make sure you have a great time.

Notice that we call you a tandem skydiving ‘student’ and not a ‘passenger’. This is because you’re not just hanging there… no no! You also have a part to play in your skydive. During your 30-minute skydiving brief, you’ll learn all about the exit position, how to make an arched body position for freefall and the importance of lifting your legs for landing.

Tandem skydiving is a great way to experience skydiving, without having to go through training to be able to do it by yourself. Take in the views, breathe in the air and experience every moment of this incredible jump.

AFF (accelerated freefall)

AFF, or accelerated freefall, is the program we use to teach new skydivers.

AFF is so called because it is perhaps the most efficient way to learn to skydive. You’ll learn all you need to know about flying your body, deploying your parachute and flying it to earth, and what to do if things don’t go quite to plan, as part of your ground training.

Then, you’ll jump accompanied by two highly experienced AFF instructors who will hold you at first but as you progress through the jumps, they’ll be less active and you’ll be able to fly independently. By your last AFF jump, you’ll have just one instructor, and then you’ll be expected to complete a series of consolidation jumps before obtaining your skydiving license.

Formation skydiving (belly)

Formation skydiving is probably the type you’re most used to seeing. This is where we fall in a belly-to-earth position (as you do on a tandem skydive) and create shapes – or formations – by holding on to one another’s arms and legs.

Formation skydiving (FS) is what most people learn to do straight after AFF. As you learn FS, you’ll learn how to fly safely with other people and how to control your body in the air.

Many skydivers compete in FS competitions. This is usually done in groups of 4 (4 way FS) or 8 (8 way FS) and involves making a set series of formations faster than the other teams. The USA is particularly good at this, holding numerous World Championship titles.


Another form of skydiving you may have seen already is wingsuit flying. Sometimes referred to as ‘squirrel suits’, a wingsuit makes us look like flying squirrels!

The wingsuit is just that; an all in one suit that has wings, which the skydiver controls in order to control their descent rate and direction. Wingsuiters tend to spend longer in the air as they are traveling more horizontally, whereas FS flyers, for example, are falling straight down (on the whole).

There are many different types of wingsuits and skydivers also compete in wingsuiting competitions.


Freeflying is the discipline where we learn to fly our bodies in all orientations and on all axis – not just belly to earth.

This means you’ll see freeflyers flying in head up, seated or standing positions. You may see them flying ‘head down’ (just upside down). Often, they combine all of this into impressive displays, or simply fly around with each other in these positions.

Freeflying is a little more difficult to master than formation skydiving and can go to highly advanced levels. VFS, for example – which stands for ‘vertical formation skydiving’ – is a very advanced discipline that combines formation skydiving with freeflying, resulting in spectacular stunts.


CRW (usually spoken as ‘crew’ and standing for ‘canopy relative work’) is all about flying your parachute. CRW jumpers usually miss out the freefall portion of their skydive entirely. Instead, they open their parachutes as soon as they leave the aircraft.

They fly very different parachutes to those of other skydivers, in that they are typically more docile and robust. This enables CRW jumpers to ‘dock’ on one another by hooking their feet around the lines of each others’ canopies (another word for ‘parachutes).

CRW can be done in pairs, fours or bigger groups, and often involves building formations using the parachutes.

Swooping and canopy piloting

Like CRW, swooping and canopy piloting are all about flying your parachute.

Swooping is the practice of accelerating the descent rate of the parachute by initiating turns. This increased speed means that the swooper is able to achieve greater travel across the ground – plus, their parachutes make a really cool ‘whoosh’ sound as they come into land! It’s a known fact amongst skydivers that chicks dig swoopers.

Canopy piloting is all about combining your knowledge of parachute flying, doing things likes competing to land most accurately, as an example.

There really is so much potential in skydiving and something for everyone. If you’re ready to get involved, book your skydive today!

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