Top Skydiving Terms To Know

Saturday, September 30, 2023

Skydiving terminology can be pretty daunting, but fear not! The following glossary of skydiving phrases, skydiving slang, and technical terms will make your introduction to the skydiving world a literal breeze. Excuse our use of incomplete sentences, but we want to teach ya the most knowledge in the shortest amount of time, then you can answer, “What do skydivers say to each other?” 

Top Skydiving Terminology


Automatic Activation Device: a small computer with a blade that is fastened inside the skydiving rig designed to cut the reserve closing loop to automatically deploy the reserve canopy in the event the jumper cannot.  AADs save lives!

*During a gear check* “Was your AAD turned on here today?”

skydiving positionsA-License

What are the stages of skydiving? The United States Parachute Association (USPA) A-license is the first of four skydiving licenses (A-D).

A-licenses allow skydivers to jump totally solo, with their friends, pack their own parachutes, and begin delving into various disciplines in the sport. 


Accelerated Freefall (AFF) is the #1 method of teaching newcomers how to skydive solo and is the fastest way to gain an A-license.

“I’m so pumped, I start AFF this weekend!” 


An altimeter (“alti”) is worn on the hand or forearm of the skydiver (typically the left) and shows the skydiver how high they are. 

*In the plane* “Altimeter is on zero!” 


Audibles are altimeters that are worn inside the skydiver’s helmet and are preset to loudly beep at certain altitudes. Audibles can also be called dytters!

“What is your audible set at?” (Meaning: which altitudes will the beeping occur?)

Beer Line

An invisible (but very real) line in the landing area that if crossed by the jumper or their canopy results in them owing a case of beer to the communal fridge. 



Simply, freefall with your belly facing the earth. 

“Let’s go do a belly jump!” 

Blue Skies

What do skydivers say to each other? Blue skies! Equivalent to “have fun, be safe.” 

“I’m headed to the DZ!” response: “Blue skies!” 


The BOC is the Bottom Of your skydiving Container where the pilot chute is secured. 

“Your BOC is TIGHT!” 


The altitude at which the group will track away (turn 180 degrees from the center of the group and leave the formation); this happens towards the end of freefall. 

*going through the dirt dive* “Hey, when are we breaking?” “Let’s break at 5!” (5,000 feet) 


Have you ever been driving behind a semi-truck on the interstate and felt your car do a little wiggle jiggle? You were caught in their burble! The same thing can happen when you are above someone in freefall, or behind someone while under canopy. 

“Why did you burble me?!”


When a parachute opens and is “pure butter,” it means it was a good opening. 

“That was such a buttery opening!” 


Large events at dropzones where skydivers across the state, country, or even globe gather to jump together. They typically involved organized jumps, raffles, bonfires, and all the good vibes you could ever imagine. 

“Are you going to the Skydive Tecumseh boogie?” 


The time left until the plane takes off – this is announced by manifest. 

“Load 1 is on a 20-minute call”


Another name for a parachute, the canopy is what allows the skydiver to descend after freefall. 

“What kind of canopy is that?” 


The act of cutting away the main canopy.

“That was my first chop!” 

Dirt Dive

This happens on the ground prior to the skydive and allows skydivers to run through their dive flow to ensure they’re all on the same page. 

“Let’s dirt dive it.” 

Dive Flow

The exit and freefall portion of the skydive are the skills that will be exemplified during these times. 

“Are you comfortable with the dive flow?” 


The act of holding on to another skydiver in freefall after being apart from them. 

“Nice job driving in for the dock.” 


Someone getting a smaller canopy than the one they were jumping previously, hence, increasing their wing loading.

“How much of a downsize was that?” 

Dropzone (DZ)

The dropzone is a place where a skydiving operation occurs! They include runways, hangars, airplanes – basically, all the fun things in this world. DZM = DZ manager and DZO = DZ owner. 

“I’m headed to the DZ!” 


A maneuver done to slow and ultimately stop the canopy from forward motion; used when landing. 

“You flared a bit too high.” 

Jump Run

The direction the plane is flying at exit time – this becomes evident while spotting and is also established prior to takeoff. 

“Don’t fly your canopy up jump run.” 


The wind speed and direction are closer to the ground; these specifics are looked at when determining landing direction. 

“The lowers are steady today” (The wind is minimal in speed near the ground). 

Main Parachute

A “main” refers to the canopy that is used on every skydive; it is the primary parachute.

“Is that a new main?”

group skydiving


Manifest is essentially the list of jumpers on a load and an area within the dropzone where skydivers go to get on the load; skydivers MANIFEST themselves onto a load.

“Hey man I just manifested for Load 3, there’s 1 slot left, you should grab it!” “I just manifested for that last slot – let’s go dirt dive it!” 

No Plan Jam

A dive flow with no expectations other than having fun and being safe. 

“What’s the dive flow?” “Eh, I don’t really feel like thinking of anything, wanna do a no-plan jam?” “OOOOH YEAH, let’s send it!”

Pack Job

This refers to when the main canopy is packed.

“DUDE  –my opening was butter, thanks for the awesome pack job!” 

The Peas

Pea gravel is small, round pebbles that are placed in a circle in the landing area. The “pea pit” is aimed at while landing to practice accuracy when landing. 

“I hit the peas!” 

Reserve Parachute

A “reserve” is the backup canopy. The reserve is the canopy that will deploy as the result of an AAD fire! 

“I’ve never had to use my reserve (yet)!” 


What is skydiving gear called? A rig! Includes the container (backpack) and both parachutes. 

“Is that a new rig!?”


Someone who is certified by the FAA to re-pack reserve parachutes (and much, much more!) 

“I’m getting a repack done by my rigger.” 


The amount of time it takes the canopy to fully inflate – long snivels result in buttery openings! 

“My canopy snivels for 1,000 feet!” 


Spotting occurs in the aircraft directly prior to exit. Skydivers will stick their heads out the open door and look straight down to ensure the spot (where they are in the sky in relation to the dropzone) is good. They also check for clouds and other things in the way, like aircraft! 

“How’s the spot?” 

Sunset Load

sunset load

The sunset load is arguably the best and most sought-after load of the day. 

“Let’s manifest for sunset!”


Swooping is a maneuver while landing a canopy that entails zooming super fast over the ground – it’s a competitive discipline. 

“YOOO, did you see my swoop!?” (Asked by every swooper, ever). 


The wind speed and direction at exit altitude, in freefall, and under canopy; are looked at when determining where to exit (and what makes a good spot). 

“How were the uppers?”

Weather Hold

Any weather-related reason that causes skydiving operations to pause. 

“Don’t come to the DZ yet, we’re on a wind hold” (The wind conditions are not conducive for skydiving). 

Wing Loading

How a jumper’s exit weight (their weight + their gear weight) relates to the size of their canopy. Someone with a higher wing loading will go faster while under the canopy; and vice versa. 

“What’s your wing loading?” 


What do you say while skydiving to fit in? Anything and everything as long as it’s nice! The skydiving community is the most welcoming around, and we can’t wait to have you! Book your jump now!

Tandem Skydiver in freefall at Skydive Tecumseh

I drove more than 2 hours to jump with Tecumseh because I wanted a reputable company and I was not disappointed. They were very safety minded and professional. The staff was very friendly and made the whole experience fun! If you're only doing it once, pay the extra and get the video package. Very well done, you won't be disappointed.

Ken Reeves