Close

Skydiving Terminology & Glossary

Skydiving Terminology & Glossary

Published: September 6, 2018

Skydiving Terminology Explained

Welcome to the world of skydiving!!! If you're new to the DZ (dropzone), be prepared to learn an entirely new terminology that may sound as foreign as a new language!!

Fortunately, with a little time spent at the DZ, you'll pick it all up quickly. To give you a head start, here are a list of terms you'll hear a lot!

AAD

AAD is an acronym meaning 'Automatic Activation Device.' An AAD is a small computer system installed in a parachute container (the backpack portion of a skydiving rig) that is designed to automatically deploy a reserve parachute at a predetermined altitude (usually between 750 and 1000 feet) if it senses that a main parachute hasn't yet been deployed. The AAD has saved thousands of lives through the years for skydivers who have failed to deploy their main parachutes. Around the DZ, you'll often hear this term used as part of a question: "Is your AAD on?"

It's important to have your AAD switched on before you board the aircraft as an AAD must be manually turned on at the beginning of each jumping day. It's not uncommon to also hear, "Is your CYPRES on?" CYPRES is a brand name for an AAD and is often used to replace the term AAD, as CYPRES is a recognized brand. Another well known brand that makes an AAD is the Vigil.

A-LICENSE PROFICIENCY CARD

If you're beginning to learn how to skydive, you're going to become very familiar with this checklist! The A license proficiency card has a list of skills that you must achieve in order to receive your first big skydiving achievement - your A license!

A-License

For a skydiver, the A-license is your first step to freedom! Once you've demonstrated you can successfully execute specific skills (as listed on your A-License Proficiency Card) you now have the ability to jump with other licensed skydivers as well as jump at other DZs.

AFF

Accelerated Free Fall is the most common training method in skydiving today and is often used at DZs around the world. AFF allows for free fall in its training as opposed to static line (SL) progression training or instructor-assisted deployment (IAD) training where free fall is just a few seconds long. AFF is the fastest track to gaining an A-license.

aff accelerated freefall learn to skydive massachusetts jumptown

Audible

An audible refers to an audible altimeter which is a small device that fits into a skydivers helmet. An audible altimeter will let out a sequence of beeping tones at a predetermined altitude (set by the jumper) to alert a skydiver that they've reached the predetermined altitude. The audible helps a skydiver maintain altitude awareness and is often used in addition to a wrist-mounted altimeter.

BASE

Many people have heard of BASE jumping but may not be aware that BASE is an acronym for Building, Antennae, Span (bridge) and Earth. Within the world of BASE, when a jumper exits from each of these launch points they are assigned a BASE number.

BELLY

You're thinking right - belly as in your stomach. Belly is an old-school way of saying that you're flying on your belly. This is often used around the DZ as in: "Hey, wanna go make a belly jump?" or "Is he a free flyer?" "No, he's a belly jumper."

Within skydiving, there are many different disciplines within the sport.

BOC

The 'BOC' is an acronym for Bottom of Container which was used to describe the position of the pilot chute. The term isn't commonly used today as nearly all modern rigs position the pilot chutes at the bottom of the container by default. There was a time when pilot chutes were positioned on the belly or leg straps and so BOC was added to clarify the position of the pilot chute.

BSR

BSR is an acronym for Basic Safety Requirement. If a dropzone (DZ) is to comply with the guidelines set forth by the USPA (United States Parachute Association) then they must follow the BSRs. BSR's are minimum safety standards.

BURBLE

It's hard to describe a burble until you feel it, but it's essentially 'dead air' or an area of turbulence behind an object traveling through the air. While skydiving, if you were in close proximity to another skydiver and flew directly over him/her, you'd feel suddenly unstable or a 'drop' having crossed into another jumper's burble.

Also, Burble is a manifest software (used at Jumptown) to help make a DZ more efficient.

BOOGIE

A boogie is essentially a party for skydivers whereby different aircraft, load organizers and activities are hosted at a DZ over a long weekend or even a week. Highlights of a boogie usually entail some kind of tailgate aircraft like a Skyvan or Casa, well-known skydivers (known as load organizers) are brought in to jump with local jumpers and theme parties where many get dressed up. For a skydiver, a boogie is all about fun both in the air and on the ground!

Canopy

A canopy is a parachute. In the civilian world of skydiving, a parachute is often referred to as a canopy.

skydiving slang

Closing Loop

As a skydiver learning to pack, you'll be introduced to closing loop soon enough! A closing loop is a small loop that holds the flaps of the skydiving container closed once the "closing pin" is inserted through the loop.

Container

A container or "harness container" (often referred to as a rig) is the 'backpack' (backpack is not a skydiving term. We're using this term as a visual) which holds both the main canopy and reserve canopy.

skydiving gear

Crabbing

Crabbing does not refer to an unhappy skydiver! Crabbing is a technique used by skydivers usually in higher than average wind conditions. Skydivers will 'crab' or fly their canopies at an angle or sideways, against the wind. Crabbing allows for a slower downwind flight across the ground both sideways and forwards.

Creeper

A creeper is not someone who gives you the willies (not in skydiving anyway). A creeper is essentially a wide-bodied skateboard which a skydiver lays on to simulate free fall maneuvers in a belly to earth position.

CRW

CRW (pronounced as 'crew') is an acronym for Canopy Relative Work also known as CF (Canopy Formation) CRW is a discipline of skydiving whereby skydivers will take grips on other skydivers parachutes. It may sound crazy, but its an art form and has remained a popular discipline at Jumptown for decades.

crw parachute formation

CYPRES

As mentioned above, CYPRES is a brand name for an automatic activation device (AAD). CYPRES is in fact an acronym all its own named after the technology it's based on: Cybernetic Parachute Release System. The CYPRES AAD is manufactured by Airtec, a company based in Germany.

Demo

A 'demo' does not mean demolition! A demo usually refers to a demonstration jump which essentially is a skydive into a public place away from the dropzone. Flag jumps into a stadium is known as a 'demo.'

skydiving at night

Dirt Diving

Dirt diving does not refer to someone who has a bad landing!! Dirt diving is rehearsing a skydive on the ground before boarding the airplane.

Drogue

A 'drogue' refers to a parachute designed to slow an object down (drogues are often used behind race cars). Drogues are used on tandem systems to slow the tandem pair down during free fall to allow for a safer and more gentle main canopy deployment.

DYTTER

A 'DYTTER' is the name of an audible altimeter manufactured by Larsen & Brusgaard. The term has been used through the years to represent all audible altimeters though it's the name of a product; it's kind of like the way Kleenex replaces the word 'tissue' Kleenex is the brand name, not the actual universal term.

DZ

You'll hear this term more than any other - DZ - the 'dropzone' or the place skydivers go to make a skydive! You'll hear this term like, "Jumptown is my favorite, DZ."

DZM

You'll want to stay in good graces with the DZM - the Dropzone Manager!

DZO

At many non-club skydiving centers, the DZO is you guessed it - the DropZone Owner.

FS

FS is an acronym for 'formation skydiving.' You may also hear the term RW (relative work) which means the same thing. Formation skydiving involves more than one skydiver jumping together and performing a predetermined sequence of formations. The most popular kind of competition skydiving is 4-Way FS. FS references jumping in a belly to earth body position.

Gripper

The term gripper arrives on our list in the perfect position - right after 'FS' as grippers are hand holds built onto formation skydiving jumpsuits to make it easier to take grips on other jumpers and secure the predetermined formation.

skydiving formation

Heading

The term heading is used a lot in skydiving and gives reference to a direction. Oftentimes you'll hear jumpers talk about an on or off heading during a parachute's deployment or exiting on heading.

Hot Load

A 'hot load' is what every skydiver loves to hear as it usually means less waiting! A hot load refers to the skydiving aircraft that will immediately pick up a load of jumpers after landing, as opposed to shutting the engines down.

Hot Fuel

A hot fuel means that an aircraft will take on fuel after landing without shutting the engines down. Essentially, it's a hot load with the addition of taking on fuel.

L & B

L & B is the manufacturer of some of the most popular audible and wrist-mounted altimeters. L & B is an acronym for Larsen and Brusgaard which represent the names of the company's owners, Mads Larsen and Niels Brusgaard. L & B is located in Denmark and has built a reputation for great products with amazing customer service. Some of their products include the Altitrack, Solo II, Viso II, ARES, Optima, ProTrack and many others. Their original product that made them a household name was the DYTTER.

skydiving altimeter l&b skydiving terminology

LO

LO is an acronym for 'load organizer.' A load organizer is usually a skilled skydiver hired at boogies or other big events to bring skydivers together and organize predetermined skydives. Load organizers can be well-respected local jumpers or world-class competition skydivers. Regardless of their experience, they are hired to organize skydivers with fun and challenging jumps with the focus on keeping them jumping all day in order to generate revenue for the DZ while providing a fun time for local and visiting skydivers.

Manifest

Manifest is the 'hub' or center of a DZs activity. Manifest is often referred to as both the office and the person that works within the office. It's the responsibility of manifest to do just that - create a manifest for aircraft for everyone wishing to skydive. An efficient and skilled manifest will organize tandem students, AFF students and licensed skydivers in an orderly fashion on available plane loads. Manifest organizes skydivers in a way to keep the aircraft from shutting down which increases aircraft efficiency (the less engine starts on an aircraft, the better) and reduces wait times for skydivers wishing to board an aircraft to make a jump. Running manifest takes skill, patience, lots of multi-tasking and experience.

Off-Landing

An off landing occurs when a skydiver is unable to land in the primary landing area. Usually landing outside the confines of a DZ's landing area boundaries is referred to as an "off landing."

Otter

An 'Otter' or more precisely a Twin Otter is an aircraft type beloved by skydivers the world over. The de Havilland (the original manufacturer) Twin Otter accommodates between 22 and 23 skydivers and has a large rear left door allowing for lots of room for competition skydiving teams or tandem pairs with a videographer. It's the preferred aircraft for national and international skydiving competitions.

skydiving twin otter skydiving terminology

Jump Run

Jump run describes the path flown by the jump plane in order to correctly position skydivers over the airport. The position where the green light is turned on is known as 'the spot.'

PLF

The term 'PLF' is most often heard when learning to skydive, but is a skill every skydiver should have down pat! A PLF or Parachute Landing Fall is a skill designed

to distribute the shock from a bad landing. A PLF distributes the landing shock along the feet, legs, thighs, hips and shoulders. The PLF technique was most commonly executed during the days of round parachutes whereby landings were much rougher than they are today, but still remains a valuable and necessary skill.

POPS

POPS refers to the club, Parachutists Over Phorty Society. The word Phorty referring to the age of 40. Today, there is also a Skydivers Over Sixty (SOS) and even a Jumpers Over Eighty Society (JOES). POPS is a fun club that helps build camaraderie with older jumpers. This was more significant in the earlier days of skydiving as one would be considered old if they were jumping into their 40s.

PD

PD stands for Performance Designs. Performance Designs is a canopy manufacturer based in Deland, Florida and is one of the most respected parachute manufacturers in the world due to their stringent quality control and research and development. PD canopies include the Navigator (popular student canopy), the PD Reserve, Silhouette, Sabre 2, Spectre, Pulse, Velocity, Peregrine, Valkyrie among many others.

pd performance designs skydiving terminology

Pilot Chute

The pilot chute is a small parachute or 'drogue' used to extract the main parachute from the container system. Every skydiver is introduced to the pilot chute on day one

of learning to skydive during the AFF First Jump Course.

Pull Up Cord

A pull up cord is a long and thin piece of material used to pull the closing loop through the grommets of a container allowing for a skydiver to more easily insert the closing pin through the closing loop. In other words, the closing loop is an invaluable tool to assist with closing the container when you've finished your pack job!

RSL

The RSL or reserve static line is a brilliant piece of engineering used to assist with the rapid deployment of a reserve parachute in the case of a malfunction. When the main canopy is cutaway, an RSL will pull the reserve pin. Not all parachute systems have an RSL, but the great majority of skydivers choose to jump with this device which deploys the reserve before a skydiver can actually deploy the reserve themselves.

skydiving rsl skydiving gear

RW

As mentioned above with FS (formation skydiving), RW is an acronym for Relative Work which is a group (two or more) skydivers who try to execute predetermined formations in the sky.

S&TA

The 'S&TA' is the Safety and Training Advisor on a DZ. The 'S&TA' is usually a highly experienced skydiver with instructor ratings who serves as a third eye on safety proceedings at the DZ ensuring USPA's BSR's (Basic Safety Requirements) are being observed.

Seal

The seal is a small lead disc (smaller than a dime) on a piece of red thread which is located around the reserve closing pin within the container. The seal indicates the reserve has not been opened since it was last packed by a packer. Every seal should have a marking unique to the rigger that packed the reserve.

Shut Down

A shut down occurs when the jump aircraft lands and does not pick up skydivers, but instead shuts down its engines. This is the opposite of a hot load.

SIM

The SIM is the Skydiver's Information Manual. The SIM is published by the USPA (United States Parachute Association) and is a comprehensive training manual. The manual can be purchased from the USPA or downloaded from the USPA website, USPA.org.

Slider

The slider is a very important component on a parachute system. The slider is packed at the top of a parachute's lines and slows the opening of a parachute on deployment. The absence of a slider on a parachute would result in rapid openings resulting in a hard opening which could cause serious injury.

Swooping

Swooping is an aggressive landing technique usually generated from a turn greater than 90* in order to produce a long and rather exciting landing. Today, canopy piloting is a discipline within the sport which grew out of swooping.

skydive swooping

Tandem Catcher

A tandem catcher, also known as a 'shagger', is someone on the ground who assists with the collapsing of a tandem canopy on landing usually when it's windy. A tandem catcher will grab a steering toggle from an instructor and extend it in order to collapse the canopy and prevent it from inflating with air.

The Peas

The 'peas' is a pea gravel pit often used during the era of accuracy landings under round parachutes. Most skydiving centers like Jumptown have a pea pit as it allowed for softer landings.

Toggles

The toggles are yellow handles attached to the end of steering lines. Steering toggles allow a skydiver to easily maneuver the canopy both directionally and for soft landings fly 'flaring'.

skydiving terminology skydiving slang

Uppers

The 'uppers' refer to the winds at higher altitudes. The upper winds are usually much stronger at altitude than ground winds and must be taken into account when estimating the spot. All skydivers should check on the wind conditions before every jump, not just on the ground but at higher altitudes.

Vigil

A Vigil is a brand name for an automatic activation device. The Vigil is manufactured by Advanced Aerospace Designs.

VFS

Vertical Formation Skydiving is a group of skydivers executing a predetermined sequence of moves during free fall while in a head to earth body position.

Wing Loading

Wing loading is the ratio between a canopy's size and the weight it's suspending (a jumper's exit weight). Wing loading is determined by dividing a jumpers exit weight (the weight of a jumper with clothes and skydiving equipment) by the surface area of the canopy. If a jumper's exit weight is 185lbs and he/she jumps a 185 square foot canopy, then their wing loading is 1.0.

Ready to learn to skydive and join the community? Find out how here!

Related Article:

The Fun Culture of Skydiving

Experienced Skydivers Welcome!

I was understandably nervous prior to arriving and left wanting to turn this one time bucket list experience into a hobby!

» Kathryn

Share