Skydiving has its own language. First time skydivers can learn some of the basic lingo. Search or read onward to jump into the world of skydiving!


- A none skydiver that upon seeing a skydiver says, “What for you jump out of that airplane?” A term used for people who have never and or will never make a skydive.

Dropzone or DZ

- A place where people skydive. Specifically it can be the target landing area when jumping out of an airplane.


- A list of the cargo or passengers carried on an airplane. In skydiving we call manifest the place were you go to sign up to get on the plane to jump. Its basically the front desk or office for the dropzone.


- A folding, umbrella like, fabric device with cords supporting a harness or straps for allowing a person, object, package, etc., to float down safely through the air from a great height, especially from an aircraft, rendered effective by the resistance of the air that expands it during the descent and reduces the velocity of its fall.


- the nylon or silk hemisphere that forms the supporting surface of a parachute. In common use it can be interchanged with parachute.


- the parachute skydiving system including the harness container, main and reserve parachutes.


– (verb) is the action of folding a parachute in a particular way so that it is ready to jump again. 

Pack job

– (noun) is the finished product of packing, a jump worthy parachute.


– A hardworking individual that packs parachutes for money.


– An individual who jumps out with a student or group of skydivers and films with a video or still camera attached to them. With the invention of extremely small mountable cameras like the, GoPro, there can be multiple cameramen/women/angles on any given skydive, especially if the skydivers are freefliers. If someone didn’t get it on video then it never happened.


– Eye protection used to help see when falling at terminal velocity.


– A device worn by a skydiver that tells them their current altitude or distance from the ground.

Audible Altimeter

– Is an altimeter that is worn near the ear and gives audible cues of current altitude. Some of the best audible altimeters are made by, Larson and Brusgaard, which is a fantastic company with exceptional customer service.


– A specialized garment or suit used to protect the body and alter body aerodynamics when jumping out of an airplane. Most jumpsuits made for students are done so in a way that makes them look especially dorky. Advanced skydivers wear extra stylish suits made by companies like Ouragan Suits


– Automatic Activation Device (AAD) – is a device used inside a parachute container that automatically opens the reserve parachute if the skydiver is still fall above a certain rate of speed at a specific altitude. It is considered a back up device in case of an emergency. Cypres makes some of the best AADs in the world. 


– An announcement made by manifest telling everyone how long until the next jump plane takes off. Calls normally start at 20 minutes then work down to 15, 10, 5 and “now” calls.

Wind hold

– Its when skydiving temporarily is put on hold due to potentially dangerous wind gusts or turbulence near the ground or up at altitude. High winds, turbulence or gusts are potentially dangerous and weather conditions should be checked before every jump.

Winded Out

– Its when skydiving is canceled completely for the day due to potentially dangerous wind gusts or turbulence.

Cloud hold

– Its when skydiving temporarily is put on hold due to cloud cover. Skydiving in the USA is considered to follow FAA visual flight rules (VFR) where you must not fall through clouds and need to see the ground before jumping from the plane. Check FAA VFR flight regulations for exact regulations. In other countries different rules apply and jumping through clouds might be common place despite the added risk cloud cover can bring. 

Suckers Hole

– A break in the cloud cover that is big enough to show blue sky but too small to jump through. Only suckers get on the plane and try to chase these small holes in the cloud cover. Normally these suckers end up paying full price for a skydive and end up having to jump out low or land with the plane.


– Part of a tandem parachute system that slows down the fall rate during freefall and acts as a pilot chute for main parachute deployment.

Pilot chute

– Is a very small round parachute used to deploy the main parachute.


– The long flat strip of fabric webbing that attaches the pilot chute or drogue to the parachute. In tandem videos when there is a close up shot, this device can sometime make the skydivers look like they are suspended from a rope. 

Three ring or 3-ring system

– A system of three rings that allows a malfunctioned main parachute to be released or cut away from the skydiver.


– When a parachute operates incorrectly and requires a cutaway.


– When a skydiver releases their main parachute using their three ring system and often times immediately followed by deploying their reserve parachute. Also a term used to describe the act of leaving ones professional life behind and becoming a skybum.


- Skydiver that lives in a trailer on the dropzone and accepts minimal payment and a simpler lifestyle in order to do as many skydives as possible.

Reserve Parachute

– is a secondary or back up parachute. All skydiving rigs have two parachutes, a main and reserve. This is what distinguishes a skydiving rig from a BASE rig. Base rigs don’t normally have secondary backup parachutes.


– Building Antenna Span Earth (BASE) – is the term used for jumping from an object, building, bridge, antenna or cliff, with a very specialized parachute and container/harness system that has one parachute that is designed to open quickly at low altitudes.


–The process of a parachute opening and slowing down the skydivers decent towards earth. 

Down winder

– When someone lands their parachute with the wind at their back causing excessive speed and often times a sliding stop. Parachutes land slower when heading into the wind.


– A canopy control maneuver where the pilot pulls one break causing the parachute to perform a continuous turn in the path of a spiral. 


– The path through the air that the canopy pilot used to land. A good box shaped pattern creates a safer landing zone and is also used by aircraft pilots.  A box pattern starts around 1000 ft and includes a downwind, base and final leg.


– The final canopy control maneuver performed by a pilot in order to level out the parachute just before they touch down on the ground during landing. A properly performed flare make the different between walking and limping away. Taking a canopy course can help you learn proper technique and improve landings.

Tandem Master

– An instructor trained to take passengers strapped to them on a tandem skydive. These breed of jumpers are often very varied in looks and demeanor so don’t get hung up if you tandem master looks like he hasn't showered in a few days. Chances are he hasn't showered in a few days but if he is still working he is bound to be safe and good at what he does. Trust him despite the smell.


– To perform the procedure of opening the main parachute. This can be via throwing out the pilot chute or pulling a deployment handle.


– To quickly deploy the main parachute.


– To deploy the main parachute but with word origins back when there were only deployment handles to pull. 


– Another term for deploying the parachute but also the specific point when the parachute inflates. There can be a delay between the deployment and actual opening.


– The area of the airport or dropzone where the aircraft takes off and lands. Look both ways before crossing never cross with out a knowledgeable instructor or jumper.

Taxi way

– The area of the airport or dropzone where the aircraft drive to and from the runway. Always use caution! Never approach an aircraft with out an instructor and never from the front of the aircraft. Propeller hazard!

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