Skydiving Lessons - Solo Training

Skydive Windy City Chicago

Learn to skydive at Chicago’s closest and most scenic skydiving center!

Our industry-leading Solo Training Program (STP) will teach you the skills needed to continue!

Learn to Skydive!

Learn to skydive at Chicago’s closest and most scenic skydiving center! Our industry-leading Solo Training Program (STP) will teach you the skills needed to earn a United States Parachute Association (USPA) “A” Skydiving License. Once you have your skydiving license, you can jump almost anywhere in the world! STP is the most progressive and complete instructional skydiving program in the world today. Developed from nearly 20 years of hand-on experience with thousands of solo skydiving students, STP’s success rate, quality, and consistency of instruction is unmatched.

Tandem Levels

Tandem Level One

Introductory Skydive. Tandem Level 1 gets it all off the ground (pun intended). The first jump we just want you to experience the skydive without any additional pressure (other than what you are putting on yourself. We will take care of everything, and you will only need to participate a minimal amount.

Tandem Level Two

We will keep it pretty easy, but we start introducing some objectives in freefall and prepare you for the parachute flight (where we expect to open, how we will fly back, etc.…) before the jump. You may begin to wear an altimeter, you’ll be trained to deploy the parachute, and you will fly the parachute with us from opening all the way through landing. Training Tandems should be arranged ahead of time. If you have a reservation, just email us to let us know you wish to do the training tandem, as you will even land in another part of the airport where solo students land. We won’t take cameras on this jump.

Tandem Level Three

We will continue where we left off on level 2, refining the freefall skills, maybe introducing some turning techniques, making sure you deploy the parachute at the proper altitude, and go over hand signals for communication. The primary focus of level 3 and level 4 are parachute flight, landing accuracy, and landing technique. Northwest Indiana is a beautiful place, but If you don’t make it to your landing area as a solo jumper, you will likely end up on I-94, in Lake Michigan, or in trees (none of these scenarios is as fun as landing where you’re supposed to). We won’t take cameras on this jump.

Tandem Level Four

You can do more tandem jumps, but if you’re like most people, you have grasped the fundamentals and can move on to solo training (jumping with a parachute we provide on your own back, with no attachment to any other person) and landing the parachute on target by yourself (we will have radio support to help you). By TL-4, you will probably find the airport, and fly back to it and land on target nice and soft, all by yourself (we just help you flare (apply the brakes). We won’t take cameras on this jump.

The Cost of Learning to Skydive

Learning to skydive is something you don’t do without proper instruction (otherwise it isn’t learning to skydive, it is suicide). Our program brings you to a level of skills that far exceed the USPAs minimum skills for an “A” license.

The total cost for jumps after your tandems is $3503.00 if you do not need to repeat any levels. On average, 50% of students repeat one level, it is rare to repeat more than one. If you repeated one level, your total cost (after your tandems) would be $3592.00. We do offer a prepay option of at least 20% off the pay-as-you-go cost (We also pro-rate the prepay discount if you started here or somewhere else and wish to pre-pay the balance). This seems expensive, and it is an expensive sport, but this is the equivalent of a “Harvard” education, not your local community college. Pricing in skydiving is not very transparent, and it is common for dropzones to advertise 8-9 jump programs (called AFF) for around $1800-$2000, but you still must meet all requirements (and you won’t in 8-9 jumps), including the 25 jump requirement. If you wish to price-shop, ask for an estimated total cost to get your license, and you will find that almost all across this great country, the total prices don’t vary more than 10%. Skydive Windy City is just straight up about it.

There are a few other additional costs for learning to skydive:

  1. Your solo skydiving initial ground school class: This 6+ hour class costs $60.00
  2. Your USPA membership: This is paid directly to the USPA prior to STP level 5 and costs $78.00
  3. Your solo skydiving freefall class: This class reinforces the ground school class and adds valuable information. This 2+ hour class costs $20.00
  4. Your parachute packing class: You must pack a parachute without assistance and jump with that parachute. This 4+ hour class costs $45.00
  5. Your USPA “A” license fee: This is paid directly to the USPA after your 25th jump and costs $36.00

So if one did not repeat any levels, their total cost (after tandems) would be $3742.00. We understand that learning to skydive is not cheap (we had to pay to learn just like you). What you probably do not understand yet is how rewarding the training is. Not only do you learn to skydive, but you learn to look at life in a different way. Skydiving is total freedom. Skydiving is the ultimate social networking. Skydiving is total acceptance. Skydiving is never going back or giving up. Learn to Skydive here or elsewhere, it will change your life for the better!

Solo Training Program Levels

STP Levels 1-4

Jump Prices: $210

STP Level One

Instructor assisted (harness-hold: you and your instructor will exit as a team) exit and freefall, you’ll open your parachute at 5,500’, test its functionality, and then get back to your landing zone for a soft, accurate landing. You will likely be at least as nervous as you were on the first tandem, and even though we have trained you well, this jump is a bit like the opening roll at the craps table (we are planning on winning but preparing for anything else). This jump will provide the baseline so we can refine your skydiving skills as fast as possible. We take video of all STP jumps so you can see what you’re doing, and you get to keep a copy, so bring a USB drive with you along with your logbook. Pre-jump prep avg = 1 hr.

Jump Price: $210

STP Level Two

Instructor assisted exit and freefall. About 20% of the time we can actually release you for a bit during this jump, and that’s a bonus if we do. We are actually trying to improve on the things that may have been a little off on STP # 1. You will still deploy your parachute at 5,500’, complete your controllability check, and land safely and accurately in your designated landing zone. You’ll get video on this jump (and all future STP jumps) too, and you’ll find it very helpful as we review the jump. Pre-jump prep avg 45 min.

Jump Price: $210

STP Level Three

Release skydive. 90% of the time we let go of you in freefall on this skydive… which means you’re skydiving for the first time with nobody touching you! We will exit as a team as in the previous 2 jumps, but after you complete your “HAT” check and “PTO’s” your instructor will let go of you and usually move around so you’re face-to-face. The previous two jumps are the entire foundation here, and once we release you, we will not redock unless you cannot maintain control. We even plan to let you deploy the parachute on your own (we are merely inches away and can get ahold of you in an instant if needed). You will perform the same or better with the parachute, but with a decreasing amount of radio assistance. Pre-jump prep avg 45 min.

Jump Price: $210

STP Level Four

Unassisted exit and freefall. On this level you will exit the airplane without the instructor hanging on (he will be almost exactly where he was on the previous 3 jumps, he just won’t be touching you unless you need physical correction. The freefall is becoming easier, and you’re more aware. We are beginning to work on heading control and static positioning (staying in one human-sized column of air). You will deploy your parachute at 5,500’, check it, and fly your pattern as we planned. We won’t be hanging on to you again unless we are doing a formation type skydive, you’re in control of yourself. Pre-jump prep avg 45 min.

Jump Price: $210

STP Levels 5-8

Jump Prices: $200

STP Level Five

Upper-body turns. Same exit as level 4, and we will teach you how to use your upper body to turn in our pre-jump prep. These exercises are merely an introduction, so you may have difficulty. The pressure you have been putting on yourself will begin to subside as your confidence increases, and that means this will be the last of the mentally-difficult skydives, it will seem to get easier from here-on-out (not because it is easier, but because your doubts are weakening fast). From level 1 until you quit skydiving, you will always open your own parachute at the appropriate (planned) altitude, and fly to your landing area and land safely on target. Students usually are off radio assistance for parachute flight (although we keep it on through level 17) somewhere between level 5 and level 8. Pre-jump prep avg 45 min.

Jump Price: $200

STP Level Six

STP #6: Lower-body turns. We are also changing your exit and will do so about every other jump for the rest of the training. Instead of facing forward you will be facing (diving) rearward on this jump. We will teach the lower-body technique in pre-jump prep, and you will see that prep time and jump prices start to decrease from here on. You will be opening your parachute a little lower, at 5,000’, and will start completing exercises under parachute as you come back to the airport and wait for your turn to land. Still landing nice and soft on target, you’re going to make a really great skydiver! Pre-jump prep avg 25 min.

Jump Price: $200

STP Level Seven

Combination turns. The proper turning method is a combination of upper and lower body turns, which creates a center-point turn that is very static. We will do the same exit as level 6 (you get a chance to try to improve on it), and then will combine the exercises from levels 5 and 6 to achieve our goal. Deployment at 5,000’, exercises under parachute, and land safely on target. Pre-jump prep avg 20 min.

Jump Price: $200

STP Level Eight

Tracking 101. On this jump we take a break from the turning and do something extra-fun… tracking. When in a group jump and our freefall is over we separate to create safe airspace to open our parachutes without running into each other. We will set the foundation for this lifesaving skill and go try it out. Don’t worry if you’re not really good at it, time will resolve that because from here on you will be tracking for the last 5 seconds of every jump you do unless you’re by yourself. The exit is new, and you will be hanging on to your instructor for a change, it is a docked diving exit. We are also doing spotting exercises (to teach you how to determine where to exit the aircraft). Open at 5,000’, exercises under parachute, and land safely on target. Pre-jump prep avg 20 min.

Jump Price: $200

STP Levels 9-12

Jump Prices: $190

STP Level Nine

360º turns and docking. We are back to the turns again, they are important. On this jump we will refine the exit from level 8, and since we will be docked, you will let go and make a 360º turn without thinking mechanically (either direction). One you stop and face your instructor, you will adjust your body position to move forward a bit to re-dock, but this time with an “open accordion” type grip instead of a “star” type grip we exited with. When the dock is complete, you let go again and make a 360º turn the other direction, and then re-dock on the other side. Lather, rinse, repeat until we reach 7,000’, because at 6,500’ you will turn 180º away from the instructor and track for 5 seconds, then deploy, check, complete exercises and land safely on target. Pre-jump prep avg 15 min.

Jump Price: $190

STP Level Ten

Fall Rate. When jumping with others, we need to match the speed we are falling with the group. We are changing the exit, it is still a “diving” exit like the last 4, but this time your instructor will leave about 1 second before you, and you will be surprised how much distance (separation) that will create. You will be closing that separation (which will be both vertical and horizontal), and then we will work on falling slower and/or faster to match another jumper’s speed. At 6,500’ you “turn and burn” for 5 seconds, deploy by 4,500’, do your exercises and land safely on target. Pre-jump prep avg 20 min.

Jump Price: $190

STP Level Eleven

Sidebody docks. The exit will be the same as level 10, and you will need to close the separation and dock in “sidebody” grip with your instructor. After the first sidebody dock you will be trying to stay in one precise spot while your instructor does all the turning, presenting the sidebody grips to you at a brisk pace, all you need to do is sit still and take grips. It is harder to be precise sitting still or hovering than it is when you’re actually moving around. If we have time (not usually), you will orbit around your instructor before you turn and track at 6,500’ to open by 4,500’ and do your exercises and land on target. Pre-jump prep avg 15 min.

Jump Price: $190

STP Level Twelve

Back Flips. The point of this jump is to build confidence for recovery from instability. You don’t have to be good at the flips, but you will be if you just do them and don’t think about it. We will start with a back-to-earth exit, as if you’re relaxed in a lazy-boy, you’ll hold the position for up to 10 seconds and then turn over to belly-to-earth and start your back flips. You will do as many as time allows, stopping by 6,500 so you can turn and track at 6,000’ to open by 4,000’ . Check your parachute, do your exercises, and land safely on target. Pre-jump prep avg 10 min.

Jump Price: $190

STP Levels 13-16

Jump Prices: $180

STP Level Thirteen

Front Flips. Same exit as level 12, almost same jump plan, but now you’ll be doing front flips. Stop maneuvers by 6,500’, turn and track at 6,000’, deploy by 4,000’, check your parachute, do your exercises, and land on target. Pre-jump prep avg 5 min.

Jump Price: $180

STP Level Fourteen

Barrel Rolls: Same exit as level 13, we are doing barrel rolls instead of flips, like rolling out of bed. Keep eye contact with your instructor and it will help you stay on heading. Track away at 6,000’, deploy by 4,000’, check your canopy, do your exercises, and land safely on target. Pre-jump prep avg 5 min.

Jump Price: $180

STP Level Fifteen

Challenge Jump: The exit is your choice on this jump, we suggest exiting like you did on levels 1-5, or like you did on 6-7 and 10-11. Your goal is to leave stable and save as much freefall time as possible. This will seem impossible, but many people have done it before you, and you can do it too! Exit, face off with instructor, then….. backflip, front flip, barrel roll, open accordion dock, 360º right turn, open accordion dock, (if time allows), repeat the other way. Turn and track away at 4,500’, open by 3,500’. It is easier than it sounds! Pre-jump prep avg 15 min.

Jump Price: $180

STP Level Sixteen

Tracking 201: You will learn to control your track heading, more than just tracking straight. We will plan to change directions as we are tracking. The exit will be just like levels 1, 2 and 3, but you will be in the instructor position and he will be in the student position. Team exit, and we will begin to track 90º off the line of flight, and we will plan 8-10 seconds depending on how well you are tracking by now. After the 8-10 seconds, we will not stop or return to neutral, but instead change direction 45º and continue tracking for 5 more seconds. Sometimes on group jumps you may get crowded while tracking (because someone is not following the jump plan), and this teaches you to steer to achieve adequate separation for opening. Pre-jump prep avg 15 min.

Jump Price: $180

STP Levels 17-18

Jump Prices: $100

STP Level Seventeen

LALO (low altitude, low opening): Well, not really LOW, you will actually be open a little higher than you were on Level 15 a couple jumps ago. This is practice for aircraft emergency exits. You will jump out without looking or counting (Instructor will check airspace for you), at 3,500’ above the ground, and deploy your parachute between 3 and 5 seconds after your feet leave the door. You check your parachute, do any exercises you please (or take a break and do none), and land safely on target. Pre-jump prep avg 20 min.

Jump Price: $100

STP Level Eighteen

Graduation skydive: You will make your first jump that is more than just one-on-one with an instructor, this will be a 4-6 person skydive and we will leave the aircraft with 3-4 docked at a minimum. You get to see the social aspect of the sport, and how much fun it is to make a plan and then execute that plan with your new friends. The entire plan will be organized by those on the jump (including you), and it will be well practiced and reviewed before the skydive. Pre-jump prep avg 30 min.

Jump Price: $100

Additional STP Jumps

STP Repeats

About 50% of students repeat Level, 3, 4, or 5, and that is because they are nervous and can’t chill enough to complete the objectives in time. None of the nearly 2000 students that have repeated one of these levels with me, failed because of inability, they all let their mind get the better of them, and their doubts hampered their performance. However it turns out for you, if you have to repeat a level, the cost is flat rate. If it happens, it’s just a thing, reset and go on. I actually like to see a little failure during the program because it shows how you deal with it when things aren’t going perfectly.

Jump Price: $150 ($120 if prepaid for program)

STP SOLOs

After 4 tandems and 18-19 STP jumps, you will have 2-3 more jumps to make to finish the final (25 jump) requirement for your “A” license. You can make these jumps solo, unsupervised. That means you make up your own plan, then go execute that plan and land safely.

Jump Price: $61 (rig rental plus lift ticket)

Solo and Group Skydiving For Licensed Skydivers

Licensed Skydiver Information

Skydive Windy City is Chicago’s closest and most scenic skydive. Views of 3 states of Lake Michigan shoreline and the downtown Chicago skyline are incredible. We are conveniently located in Northwest Indiana at the Michigan City Municipal Airport. If you are visiting Chicago and do not have a car, we are accessible via the South Shore Line (Carroll Ave. Station) from downtown Chicago.

Our Skydiving Jumpship is a Pacific Aerospace PAC-750XL that holds 14 jumpers and climbs to 14000 feet in as little as 8 minutes. Tandem is the primary operation, but slots are always available to get licensed jumpers up regularly. During the busiest times of the season we also stay open late on Fridays. We offer indoor air-conditioned packing on padded carpet, paid packing services, abundant landing areas, and jumper pickup (from the landing area) after landing.

Skydiving Rig Rental is available and all rigs have Safire2 main canopies (from 269 down to 189sqft wi Cypres Expert AADs. We only have current equipment, and all rental rigs are maintained to the highest standard, including rigger-inspections every 25 jumps. Rigs can be rented by the jump or flat fee for the day, but they cannot be used for wingsuiting, night jumps, in conditions not suitable for rig renters, or taken off-site.

Parachute Rigging and Parachute Repair Services are also available. We have two riggers on the team for emergency services, but if you plan to drop your rig off for repack our standard turn-around time is 2 weeks. You can pay a bit more to expedite the service. You can buck-up to repack turn-around in as little as one day.

Online Waiver You can complete your waiver before you get to the dropzone. Follow this link to complete our 2019 Licensed Skydiver Waiver.

Licensed Skydiver Prices

  • Regular Jump Ticket: $26.00
  • 20 Block Rickets: $24.00 / each
  • Weekday Ticket: $22.00
  • Rig Rental: $35.00
  • Coach Jump/Recur: $85.00
  • Coach with Rental: $120.00
  • Main Inspection: $10.00
  • Main Packing: $7.00
  • Closing Loops: $1.00
  • Reserve Repack:
    • 2 weeks: $65.00
    • 1 week: $80.00
    • 1 day: $105.00
Providing superior service to our Tandem customers is our primary focus, but slots are always available (usually for at least a 4-way) for licensed skydivers.