Infinite Skydiving have amassed the terms below to help the newbie skydiver to get acquainted with the unusual terminology in skydiving....All suggestions are very welcome.
Automatic Activation Device. A device that senses rate of descent and altitude. Set to automatically activate the reserve parachute if the skydiver passes below a set altitude at a high rate of descent. Mandatory for all student parachute systems. (Also see Cypres, Vigil, Mars, Astra, FXC).
Also known as Precision Landing, this is a competition discipline in which the skydiver attempts to land on an established target. At the National level the target is 3 cm in diameter, about the size of a ten pence piece.
Accelerated Free Fall. An AFF student receives training on free fall jumps of 40 seconds or longer, accompanied by a qualified Instructors who teach in air via hand signals. Course involves eight levels. Up to 5 times faster progression than traditional static line parachuting.
Above Ground Level. Altitudes are in reference either to Ground Level of Sea Level (see MSL). Skydivers always use AGL when referring to altitude.
The speed of a flying object through the air, commonly used in reference to aircraft or canopies. (Also see groundspeed)
A device indicating altitude AGL. Generally worn on the wrist for easy visual reference.
Electronic altimeter with analogue face
Angle of attack
The angle at which the wing is presented to the apparent wind. With square parachutes this changes when the brakes are applied.
The wind perceived by an observer. See relative wind.
The disciplines of Freeflying, Freestyle and Skysurfing.
An AAD made by FXC Corporation.
The ratio of a canopies span (side to side) to chord (front to back). Seven cell canopies typically have an aspect ratio of about 2.2 to one, while nine cell canopies are usually between 2.8 and 3.0 to one.
A small electronic device that fits into the skydivers helmet, pre-set on the ground to beep loudly in freefall at a certain important altitude i.e break off, deployment.
To move backward in freefall relative to a neutral reference. Usually unintentional and undesirable, caused by poor body position.
The deployment bag in which the canopy is packed.
A malfunction of a freefall system where lines have deployed but canopy is still trapped in bag.
The core around which a formation skydive is built. Can be a single person or a group of people, depending on the number of skydivers involved.
A jump made from a fixed object rather than an aircraft. BASE is an acronym for Building, Antenna, Span (bridge) Earth (cliff).
British Collegiate Parachute Association- A group run by and for college students, associated with the BPA. Runs regional and annual competitions for BPA members still undertaking education.
Short for Beechcraft, an aircraft manufacturer. Usually used in reference to a Beech D-18, a.k.a. Twin Beech. At one time these were common skydiving planes, but they are becoming obsolete.
Freefalling in a belly to earth position i.e. formation skydiving
Basic Instructor (able to teach on the ground under supervision of a fully qualified instructor)
Swooping under canopy through a series of wind blades along the ground.
Freestyle move use by canopy pilots at swoop competition.
Lower leg of jumpsuit that hook over the front of the shoe creating more powerful leg drag.
Bottom of Container. Refers to the location of the pilot chute. An increasingly common position for main deployment devices, as opposed to belly or leg mounted.
Ones freefall body posture. Variations in body position are what make a wide range of freefall maneuvers possible.
A gathering of skydivers, usually focused on fun rather than competition. Big drop zones host several boogies a year, often on long holiday weekends.
To land at unsurvivable speed. Also to frap, or go in.
A neutral, face to earth body position in which the arms form right angles at shoulder and elbow, and the legs are spread at about 45 degrees from the long axis and bent 45 degrees at the knees. Generally considered the basic position for Formation Skydiving.
British Parachute Association - The governing body of sport parachutisting in the UK. run by an elected Council of 15 sport parachutists, with a number of full-time employees fulfilling technical and administrative tasks
The brake lines of the canopy are synonymous with steering lines or control lines. Used together, they slow the parachute. Used independently they result in a turn.
To cease formation skydiving by tracking away from the formation prior to deployment.
The thin webbing strap from the pilot chute to the top of the canopy. Part of the deployment system which consists of pilot chute, bag and bridle.
An error of judgement by the jumpmaster, in which parachutists have been despatched at a point at which they will probably find it difficult to fly back to the PLA.
Rubber band used for stowing suspension lines onto the deployment bag.
The area of turbulence behind an object going through the air, whether a person in freefall or a canopy in flight.
Civil Aviation Authority - the body responsible for air standards, safety and operations in UK airspace
The time remaining until you are to board the aircraft. For example, a fifteen minute call means you will board in fifteen minutes.
A stage of progression from 1-8, with a specific set of guidelines for achievement, laid down by the STC. Followed by all students undertaking training at BPA Affiliated Parachute Clubs. Category 1-8 jumpers are classified as student parachutists
The construction of fabric and lines used to land safely after a freefall. Usually used in conjunction with a type reference (round, square, zero-p, main or reserve).
The point where two lines join together so they run smoothly into one. Cascading the suspension lines results in reduced bulk and drag.
Club (or Centre) Chief Instructor- Advanced instructor (or Advanced Instructor/Examiner) nominated as the person in charge of a parachute operation.
Square canopies are made up of pressurized cells, usually seven or nine. Each cell consists of a load bearing rib at each side to which the suspension lines are attached. A third, non load bearing rib runs down the middle of the cell. The cell is pressurized through the open mouth at the front and also through cross ports in the ribs. Adjacent cells share load bearing ribs.
The point around which movement takes place. In an individual the center point is considered to be in the middle of the torso. In a group, it is the point that the formation centers around.
An aircraft manufacturer. Single engined Cessnas such as 180s, 182s and 206s are the workhorse of smaller drop zones, carrying four to six jumpers.
Canopy Formations- Formation Work with 2 or more square canopies. Used to be known as CRW (Canopy Relative Work)
Canopy Formation qualification, Grade 1
French for sit flying, or freefalling with one's seat presented to the relative wind.
Style and accuracy
The small loop that holds the flaps of the container closed once the pin has been guided through the loop.
A skydiver with some formal training in the art of instructing freefall technique.
A committee of the BPA which runs competitions
The element of the parachute that houses the canopies. Technically, the Harness/Container but usually just referred to as the container.
A canopy is crabbing when it is flown at an angle sideways to the ambient wind, resulting in a path across the ground that is sideways as well as forwards.
To creep is to practice formation skydiving sequences while laying prone on a creeper.
A board equipped with wheels on which a skydiver lays to simulate freefall maneuvers.
Holes in the ribs of a cell that allow air to flow from one cell to another.
A diagonal bracing between the ribs in a high performance wing, adds rigidity to the wing surface to aid in higher wing loaded canopies.
Category System Instructor, qualified to teach static line students through the free fall progression system.
To "be current" is to have jumped recently enough to retain proficiency in the sport. Uncurrent skydivers, depending on their experience, must be supervised to some degree when they resume jumping. See Op’s manual.
Command given to the pilot to slow the aircraft speed for exit.
To release the main parachute, cutting away is a standard emergency procedure prior to deploying the reserve. More properly known as a breakaway, the technique involves using a simple release system activated by pulling a handle. (see 3 ring release).
Canopy Relative Work, now officially known as Canopy Formations C.F.) CRW involves flying open canopies in close formation, where the pilots actually take grips on each other's parachutes.
A type of AAD. Made by AirTech of Germany, this is the most common type of AAD and the first modern design to be widely adopted by expert skydivers.
A common construction material for canopy suspension lines. Dacron lines are thicker and softer than so called "microlines".
Every parachute carries a data card with information on the reserve parachute, including type, last date packed, owner, serial number, etc.
To flatten out or reverse one's body position from the normal arched position. A de-arch results in a slower fall rate than an arch.
Dead Centre - top score in accuracy competitions
Post skydive analysis
The period of time in freefall (used in category system I.e 10 second delay)
A parachute jump performed as a demonstration at an event (Also known as a display)
The altitude at which a skydiver is trained to begin execution of emergency procedures. Usually 2,500 feet AGL for students, and 1,800 feet for expert skydivers.
The components of the parachute that control deployment of the canopy. Includes pilot chute, bridle and bag.
One of the methods of exiting the aircraft and can be short for skydive
To rehearse a skydive on the ground by walking through each formation and grips, also using creepers to get correct visual references.
A dive floater is a skydiver who is inside the airplane in the exit line up, but leaving prior to the base. This configuration only occurs on large formations.
Many advanced skydivers have loops or "blocks" on their front risers to make it easy to grip the front risers for steering purposes. Also called front riser loops.
Anyone diving out of the plane during a formation skydiving exit.
Take up a grip on a freefall formation or the linking of one canopy to another
CF formation with 2 jumpers linking linking legs and flying their canopies pointing towards the ground. This can also occur to a single skydiver with both main and reserve deployed
Pointing the canopy in the direction the wind is blowing
Individual packing mat that container rests on during packing.
Dummy-pull (also known as DRCP Dummy Rip Chord Pull). Training stage, as part of preparation for freefall
Slang for Deployment of a Canopy
To practice an exit in the aircraft door of a mock up of it prior to the skydive.
Common slang for a skydiving center, also DZ.
An older brand of audible altimeter.
Drop Zone - a notified portion of airspace within which skydives/ parachute descents are made
A wing shape characterized by a tapering leading and trailing edge so that the middle of the canopy is wider, front to back, than the ends. This configuration is typical of many high performance canopies.
The cell furthers out on a canopy.
The total weight of the jumper and all equipment and clothing.
A fabric common in mid range canopies, F-111 is slightly permeable to air and wears faster than zero-p fabric. Pronounced "F one eleven".
Federal Aviation Administration - US equivalent of the CAA, who set standards for many items of parachute equipment
Federation Aeronautique Internationale - the International Governing Body for all air sports.
A ladder of qualification, starting at 'A' up to 'D'
Federal Aviation Regulations, the laws governing aviation in the U.S.A.
The speed at which a skydiver falls. Matching fall rate is essential to successful formation skydiving. This is done with jumpsuits, weights and body position.
FF1 & 2
Freeflying Qualification, grade 1 and 2
A method of installing a loop in a brake line without producing rough spots on the lines, the finger trap is accomplished by sliding one line into the other. The loop serves as a method of setting brakes in the desired position for the parachutes deployment.
The act of pulling down the brakes of the canopy in order to slow it down, resulting in an increased angle of attack and reduced descent rate.
Continuous high pitched beep emitted from an audible altimeter when the lowest set decision height has been reached.
Skydivers who leave the airplane before the base are called floaters since they must use a slow fall rate to get up to the base. Floating also refers to an exit position outside the airplane.
1) A freefall skydiving formation of more than one jumper.
2) A flight of more than one jump plane.
Formation Skydiving, formerly known as relative work. In FS, skydivers attempt to go through a predetermined sequence of freefall formations.
Deployment bag the reserve canopy is packed into, inside reserve container
A freefall discipline of any orientation other than flat flying.
A type of skydiving characterized by acrobatic individual flying, reminiscent of gymnastics.
Formation Skydiving, grade 1
A funnel occurs when one or more skydivers find themselves in an unstable body position and end up in a skydivers burble. The resulting loss of stability for the other skydivers usually causes the formation to break up.
A company manufacturing AADs. Older FXC design was common on student equipment but considered by many to be unsuitable for expert skydivers. A new FXC design, the ASTRA, went on the market in the spring of 1996 and is relatively unknown.
Acronym often used in student logbooks, meaning "Good All The Way"
The distance a canopy flies forward compared to down. A canopy with a 3:1 glide ratio flies three feet forward for every foot of vertical descent.
Global Positioning System. By picking up signals from satellites, a GPS receiver can tell the user position over the ground. Used in skydiving aircraft to aid the jumpmaster to spot the exit.
Regional competition organised by the BPA
Using the hands to hold onto another skydiver in freefall or during the aircraft exits. In formation skydiving, the formations are scored as complete when every skydiver has taken the correct grips.
Hand holds built onto formation skydiving jumpsuits to make it easier to take grips.
The illusion of the ground appearing to accelerate towards you.
The speed of an airplane or skydiver over the ground, as opposed to through the air.
A succession of manoeuvres, two alternate turns and a back-loop.
To activate the parachute by manually deploying the pilot chute as opposed to pulling a ripcord.
The webbing and fabric holding the main and reserve canopies to the skydiver.
The direction an aircraft, skydiver, or parachute is facing. The ability to recognize and maintain heading is crucial to jumping with others successfully. "On" or "off" heading are terms commonly used to describe exits and deployments.
Line used on high performance swoop canopys.
When a parachute is flying directly into the ambient wind, it is said holding. See running and crabbing.
A small knife carried in the jumpsuit or on the parachute harness, the hook knife is designed to cut lines or webbing. A small razor blade is recessed in a hook shaped handle to prevent unintentional cuts.
A turn of 90 degrees or more executed close to the ground. Because of the high risk associated with this maneuver, hook turns have an unfavorable connotation.
Hop & pop
Slang for a very short freefall delay.
When the airplane does not shut down during fueling. Do not board the aircraft while fueling is in progress.
Individual canopy qualification, grade 1
Individual style qualification, grade 1
A reserve packed within the previous 180 days is said to be "in date". If more than 180 days have elapsed since the reserve was packed it is"out of date" and illegal to use. (120 days in U.S.A.)
Holder of a BPA rating or overseas equivalent
The International Parachuting Commission oversees sport parachuting. It is a committee of the FAI.
Jumpmaster - an experienced Skydiver, or Instructor, responsible to the CCI and pilot for the parachutists on each lift.
Joint Services Parachute Centre. Centres around the world. skydiving for service personel
Coverall type garment with grippers used in various skydiving disciplines i.e F.S. and freefly
The nominated jumper on each load responsible in case of an aircraft emergency, also designates exit order, spotter. Jump run. The flight path taken by the jump plane to put the skydivers in position over the airport.
A signal to move on to the next formation in a skydive.
A turbine aircraft made by Beechcraft and common in medium sized drop zones.
A line through the bridle which collapses pilot chute after canopy opens to reduce drag
Two or more jumpers leaving the aircraft together (stable)
Line of flight
An imaginary line corresponding to the jump plane's path over the ground, the line of flight is a useful reference line on larger formation skydives. Also, during the jump run the skydivers will be distributed along this line of flight.
Like pilots or sailors, skydivers log their activity and achievements in order to document their experience.
Mean sea level. Used by pilots when defining altitude, MSL refers to feet above sea level as opposed to above the ground. Pilots always use MSL when referring to altitude.
The primary parachute.
1) The list of skydivers on the jump plane. 2) The act of going to the office where this list is maintained to put yourself on a plane. 3) The location where manifesting takes place.
A modern type of suspension line considerably smaller than Dacron line. (also see spectre line)
British Open National Championships, an annual event organised by the BPA
National Coach and Safety Officer - an employee of the BPA responsible to Council for the safe conduct of parachuting in the UK, and the training of Instructors
Popular container from Sunpath inc.
Someone with leadership skills and skydiving expertise who plans formation skydives.
The DeHavilland Twin Otter, a very popular (U.S.A) turbine jump ship carrying up to 23 jumpers.
The force felt due to sudden deceleration as the canopy opens
A reserve manufactured from very low bulk material (Performance designs)
An audible device used by canopy pilots to help set up for swoop landings.
Landing off target.
Out of date
See in date.
Packing data card
See data card.
Pea gravel, used in the landing area as a target reference and because it is forgiving of hard landings.
1) The skydiver who first gets to the base. Base/pin are the two people around which many formations are built. 2) The act of docking on the base. 3) The closing pin of the main or reserve container, which should both be checked prior to jumping.
The pea gravel area.
A small, round parachute that acts as a drogue to extract the main parachute from the container and deploy it.
The area where it is intended skydivers/parachutist will land (sometimes mistakenly called the DZ).
Parachute landing fall. A technique used to minimize injury during rough landings, a PLF distributes the landing.
The amount of air that will pass through a given area of canopy material
Parachutists Over Phorty Society; an association for the more mature skydiver
A single engined turbine aircraft carrying up to ten jumpers.
A type of altitude warning device which gives additional freefall speed and distance information
A way of folding a square canopy whilst standing up.
Deploy main parachute (also dump)
A type of hand deploy pilot chute where the pilot chute is packed inside the container and pulled out using a handle with a lanyard to the pilot chute.
Pull up cord
A piece of cord or line used to pull the closing loop through the grommets of the container.
Slang for the handle on a pull out pilot chute system.
Royal Aero Club of the United Kingdom - the UK representatives on and of the FAI
Ram-Air Progression System - A programme for beginners using static line deployed square parachutes from jump one.
Regional championships, also known as Grand Prix.
The apparent wind felt by a jumper in freefall, relative wind is the result of the skydiver's speed through the air.
The auxiliary parachute carried on every intentional parachute jump.
Removable deployment system, used by canopy swoopers to help remove drag after the canopy is open to aid forward speed.
The deployment system on all reserves and most student parachutes. The ripcord is a piece of cable with a handle at one end and a pin at the other. When pulled, the pin comes out of the closing loop holding the container shut, and the pilot chute is released.
Skydiver slang for the entire parachute, including main and reserve canopies and the harness/container.
Someone with a certificate from the FAA stating they have successfully met the requirements to be a parachute rigger.
The certificate possessed by a rigger as proof of competence. Parachute riggers may make minor repairs and pack reserve and main parachutes. Advanced riggers may make major repairs and alterations as well as packing parachutes.
The webbing that connects the harness to the suspension lines. At the bottom of the risers will be a mechanism for attaching and releasing the risers and harness, usually in the form of a three ring release. On the rear risers are the brakes/steering lines. The suspension lines attach to the top of the risers with connector links, also known as rapid links.
1) A formation where each skydiver has grips on the arms of those next to him, also known as a star.
2) A round parachute, as opposed to a modern ram-air "square" parachute.
Reserve static line. This is a line from the main risers to the reserve cable. In the event the main is cut away, it may pull the reserve pin. Note: this system is only effective in malfunctions where the main is at least partially deployed.
When a canopy is flying with the ambient wind it is said to be running. This produces the greatest possible ground speed.
Final line that the aircraft flies to reach the pre determined spot for jumpers to leave. Also called the jump run
Relative work, the term used to describe formation skydiving until a change in nomenclature made by the International Parachuting Commission in the early 90s. (see F.S.)
Skydiver's Information Manual. Published by the USPA, the SIM is a comprehensive manual on USPA policies and training methods. It also includes FARs pertinent to skydiving.
a world-wide training system for formation skydiving
New type of RSL that uses the cutaway main canopy as the drag to open the reserve, designed by Bill Booth of Uninsured relative Workshop.
Skydiving on a surfboard
Single Operation System. This system simplifies emergency procedures by combining the functions of the cut away and reserve handles in a single handle.
Reserve parachutes have a small lead seal on a piece of red thread around the closing pin. This seal indicates the reserve has not been opened since it left the riggers hands.
An older type of AAD.
Skydiving in a seated head up orientation
Single operation system
Although on the surface this term refers to a superior skydiver, in drop zone use skygod is a derogatory term for a skydiver whose ego has grown faster than his skydiving ability.
A rectangular piece of nylon fabric with a grommet at each corner through which the canopy's suspension lines are routed. Packed at the top of the lines, the slider controls the opening of the canopy by preventing the parachute from expanding too rapidly.
A position in the skydive or on the plane. Uses: "dock in your slot", or "two slots left on the next Otter".
Part of the canopy opening sequence before the inflation has taken place.
A material from which microline is made.
A competition where jumpers build a formation as quickly as possible
The position of the aircraft when the jumpers exit. Spotting (selecting the spot) is done by a skydiver and may be aided by the pilot.
S/S 1 & 2
Skysurfing qualification, grade 1 and 2
A ram air parachute as opposed to a round parachute.
The vertical strips of material beneath the end cells of the canopy. Stabilizers improve the canopy's ability to fly straight ahead and enhance efficiency by reducing tip vortices.
A basic FS formation, with 3 or more skydivers linked in a circle by their arms
A group of canopies in the sky stacked vertically above each other
When the angle of attack of a wing becomes too high to sustain lift, the wing is said to be stalled.
Vertical freefall position, feet to earth, crucifix style. Also a type of landing
In static line deployments the parachute deployment system is attached to the airplane, with a cord ten to fifteen feet long, resulting in deployment immediately after exit.
The lines that run from the steering toggles on the rear risers to the trailing edge of the parachute.
Handles attached to the end of the steering lines to facilitate their use. Toggles and lines are configured so they can be stowed in a partially down position to enhance the opening of the parachute.
Safety and Training Committee (of the BPA). A sub-committee of Council, made up by CCIs who make appropriate decisions on safety and training.
To neatly arrange suspension lines on the deployment bag or steering toggles in their keepers
When the main canopy has left the bag but not inflated at all. Also sometimes a slang name for a WDI
A type of freefall competition where an individual skydiver attempts to execute a predetermined sequence of maneuvers in the shortest possible time.
The lines from the risers to the canopy. They are normally in four groups, labeled from front to back as A, B, C and D. They can be further divided into right and left or front and back riser groups, and by type of material.
1) To dive down to a formation or individual in freefall.
2) To aggressively approach the landing area in order to produce a long, flat flare and an exciting landing.
Tandem Tandem Skydive, Tandem jump
1) An introduction to skydiving by a Tandem Instructor, in which the student is strapped to the Instructors front, and conducts a free-fall descent from altitude, and a long canopy ride under a very large parachute, remaining attached throughout!!
2) Another name for the piggyback parachute system, in which the main and reserve canopies are in the same container
The speed at which drag matches the pull of gravity, resulting in a constant fall rate. Typical terminal velocity for formation skydiving is in the 120 to 135 mile per hour range, but speeds as high as 300 miles per hour have been reached.
A parachute release mechanism that utilizes three rings of separate size in a mechanical advantage system. Invented by Bill Booth in the late 70s, the three ring release is almost universally considered the best cut away system available.
A deployment method in which the pilot chute is stowed in a pouch on the belly, leg of bottom of container.
Handles on the steering lines.
Type of malfunction where there is nothing out of the container
To assume a body position that creates a high forward speed. Used to approach or depart from other skydivers in freefall.
Technical Officer - an employee of the BPA responsible to Council for technical and overall running of the Association on a day-to-day basis
Technical Standard Order. A technical standard that all American parachutes must meet before they can be marketed. Unless specifically exempted by the FAA, a parachute must have a TSO placard to be legal.
Turn around load
When the aircraft does not shut down between loads, but lands and picks up skydivers for immediate departure.
The upper winds, or winds at exit altitude. The "uppers" are often much stronger and occasionally from a different direction than ground winds.
The United States Parachute Association is a non profit skydiver's organization. USPA offers guidance and assistance to skydivers in training, government relations, competition, and many other fields. Most drop zones require USPA membership of individual skydivers because such membership includes third party liability insurance.
line used on high performance canopies, non stretching or shrinking
A competitive point competition on the vertical orientation, team members fly head up and head down whilst taking grips in various formations
Very Good All the Way
Vertical relative work, (see V.F.S.)
Prior to deployment a skydiver should make a clearly defined arm motion to indicate to others nearby that he is about to open his parachute. A good wave off is essential to the avoidance of deployment collisions.
Wind drift indicator. A paper streamer thrown from the jump plane to estimate winds under canopy and determine the spot.
Many lighter skydivers wear a weight vest to allow them to maintain a fast fall rate.
Skydiver slang for people who don't jump, from "Wuffo you jump out of them planes?"
An imaginary line from the desired landing area, extending directly along the direction the wind is blowing.
The ratio of weight born by a wing to its surface area. In the US, divide your exit weight in pounds by the square footage of the canopy.
XY & Z
Common slang for a type of fabric relatively impermeable to air. The less air that flows through the fabric wing of a ram air parachute, the more efficiently it flies.
A jump that didn’t go quite as planned!
If you have any suggestions to add to the above then please add them in comments so I can make this the largest most concise directory of skydiving terms available.
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