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Skydiving Terminology

If you want the list of skydiving terminology for new skydivers - click here



AAD - (Automatic Activation Device)

A electronic or mechanical device which automatically opens the reserve parachute at a set altitude as a back up for the user.Typically these will be Vigil or Cypres.

Accuracy - Precision Landing

This is a competition discipline in which the skydiver attempts to land on an established target usually a tuffet. At the National level the target is 1.2 inches or 3 cm in diameter, roughly size of a quarter.

Accuracy - Distance to target

Accuracy landings of various difficulty, from 20 meters (65 feet) to 2 meters (6.5 feet), are required for CSPA/USPA licenses.

AFF - (Accelerated Freefall Course)

An accelerated USPA standard for learning to skydive, the learning time is shorter then other methods. An AFF student will receive training on freefall jumps of 40 seconds or longer, accompanied by a qualified jumpmaster, as opposed to Static Line training which does not involve long freefall in the initial training phase.
For the CSPA counter part see PFF.

AFF CC - (Accelerated Freefall Jumpmaster Certification Course)

This is the Certification Course that must be successfully completed in order for a skydiver to be an USPA Accelerated Freefall Jumpmaster.

AGL - (Above Ground Level)

Refers to the altitude above the earth of the landing zone. Skydivers always use AGL when referring to altitude, this can be in feet or meters. Note: Altitudes can be reference either to Ground Level or Sea Level (see MSL or ASL).

ASL - (Above Sea Level)

Refers to the altitude above the oceans. Skydivers always use AGL when referring to altitude, so do not make the mistake of using ASL. ASL can be in feet or meters.


The speed of a flying object through the air, commonly used in reference to aircraft or canopies. This can be measured in many different units of measure so be sure to convert if it is in a unit you are uncertain of.

Altimeter - (Commonly referred to as Alti)

A device indicating altitude above a set point(Under normal operation it should be set to AGL). Comes in three styles;

  • Analog: Looks like a clock face with a single hand.
  • Digital: A battery operated unit with a variety of possible different display methods.
  • Audible: these altimeters beep when you fall through a preset altitude. These are only a backup for a visual.
These units typically will indicate your height above the ground, in thousand foot increments (or meters).

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.

Angle of incidence

The angle at which a canopy is trimmed to glide through the air.

Apparent wind

The wind perceived by an observer. See relative wind.

Aspect ratio

The ratio of a canopys width (side to side) to breadth (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.




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.

Base - Skydiving

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.

BASE - Base jump

A jump made from a fixed object rather than an aircraft. BASE is an acronym for building, antennae, spans (bridges) and earth (cliff).


Short for Beechcraft, an aircraft manufacturer. Usually used in reference to a Beech D-18, a.k.a. Twin Beech.

BIC - (Basic instructors course)

Attended in an effort to gain a sufficient level of proficiency with reference to teaching.

BOC - Bottom of container

a deployment holding system, which Refers to the location of the pilot chute. An increasingly common position for main deployment devices, as opposed to belly or leg mounted.

Body position

The position that a person takes during free fall, this includes minute details such as the direction your toes are pointing. Variations in a skydivers body position are what make a wide range of freefall maneuvers possible.


A gathering of skydivers for a single purpose (skydiving). These events are usually focused on fun rather than competition. See our Canadian boogie event calendar for more details.


To land after freefall without the aid of a parachute. essentially this means land at speed in which survival is not possible.

Box man

The box position is important for sequential Formation Skydiving. It is a widespread, symmetrical falling position. When falling in this neutral falling position the body is slightly arched to remain on one spot. To form the box, arch with the arms bent 90° at the shoulders and elbows and the palms pressing into the relative wind. The legs bent at the knees so that the legs are slightly bent, with the feet and lower legs pushing out slightly onto the relative wind. The hips should have a relaxed curve in the torso. This position presents balanced amounts of drag from top to bottom, left to right.

BPA - British Parachute Association

The British Parachute Association is a member of the of the Royal Aero Club of the United Kingdom, which is the UK National Airsports Control (NAC) of the World Air Sports Federation (Federation Aeronautique Internationale). BPA nominates the UK Delegate and Alternate Delegate to the FAI's International Parachuting Commission.


The brake lines of the canopy are synonymous with steering lines. Used together, they slow the forward motion of the parachute parachute. Used independently they result in a turn.

Break off

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. During packing it is important to ensure you have cocked your pilot chute and properly have routed your bridle. See your containers manufacturer hand book for better instructions on how this is done.

BSR - (Basic Safety Requirements)

BSRs are CSPA / USPA guidelines. These are not law but are generally regarded as excellent minimum safety standards.


Area of low air pressure above a descending skydiver caused by a person in freefall or a canopy in flight.
Going into someone else's burble usually results in a "frommel.



The time remaining until you are to load the aircraft. For example, a twenty minute call means you will be boarding in twenty minutes.


Skydiver talk for a Parachute. For more detailed information on the various types of parachutes please review the following: Main Parachute, Reserve Parachute, Square Parachute, Round Parachute, and Elliptical Parachute. All of these types of parachutes may be referred to as a canopy. A canopy is the device which is used to land safely after a freefall, it is constructed of fabric and lines.


The point where two lines join together so they run smoothly into one. By joining the suspension lines the results are reduced bulk and drag.


The chambers in a ram-air parachute, made up of two halves. They are delimited by two load bearing ribs and are split in two by the non-load bearing rib in between. Most Skydiving Canopies have either nine or seven cells. An individual cell may be split into more than two parts. A nine Cell Canopy is generally a more efficient wing than a seven cell because it has more ribs and can be a better airfoil. Canopies with more cells have more ribs and more fabric which results in them not packing as small.

Center point

The point in 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.

Chute assis

French for sit flying, or freefalling with one's seat presented to the relative wind.

Closing loop

The small loop that holds the flaps of the container closed once the pin has been guided through the loop.


A skydiver with formal training to pass along instructing in freefall technique.


The part of a Rig which contains the Main Parachutes and Reserve.


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 on a creeper.


A board equipped with wheels on which a skydiver lays to simulate freefall maneuvers.

Cross ports

Holes in the ribs of a cell that allow air to flow from one cell to another.

CRW - (Canopy Relative Work)

Officially known as Canopy Formations. CRW involves flying open canopies in close formation, where the pilots actually take grips on each other's parachutes.


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 the SIM - USPA / PIM - CSPA.

Cut away

To release the main parachute, cutting away is a standard emergency procedure prior to deploying the reserve. Also known as a breakaway, the technique involves using a simple three ring release system activated by pulling a handle. In some systems, the cut away or breakaway system will also automatically deploy the reserve canopy.


A type of AAD. Made by AirTech of Germany, this is a common type of AAD and the first modern design to be widely adopted by expert skydivers. More details on the Cypres can be found here



A type of aircraft, the Douglas DC-3 is a large, twin engined airplane capable of carrying over 40 jumpers. DC-3s are being rapidly replaced by more modern turbine engine aircraft.


To flatten out or reverse one's body position from the normal arched box man. A de-arch results in a slower fall rate than an arch.


A common construction material for canopy suspension lines. Dacron lines are thicker and softer than so called "microlines".

Data card

Every container carries a data card with information on the reserve parachute, including type, last date packed, owner, serial number, etc.

Dead spider

Slang for de-arch.

Decision altitude

The altitude at which a skydiver is trained to begin execution of emergency procedures. Usually 3,500 feet AGL for students, and 2,500 feet for expert skydivers. The decision altitude may be different upon the expertise or comfort of the skydiver.


A body position which forms somewhat of an arrow shape.

Deployment system

The components of the parachute that control deployment of the canopy. Includes pilot chute, bridle and bag.

Dirt dive

To rehearse a skydive on the ground.

Dive floater

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.

Dive loops

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.

Door jam

To practice an exit in the aircraft door of a mock up of it prior to the skydive.

Down plane - CRW

formation with two canopies, both pointed toward the ground.

Down plane - Malfunction

Both main and reserve canopies released from the container at the same time, both pointed toward the ground usually pulling in opposite directions. Follow proper emergency procedures to resolve the situation.

Drop zone

A common term for a skydiving center, also can be referred to as a DZ.


A discontinued audible altimeter from Larsen & Brusgaard. The unit was wildly used and now the term audible altimeter sometimes is referred to as a dytter


Elliptical Canopy

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. These Canopies are far more radical than Square canopies capable of doing 360 degree turns in 1-2 seconds, with the Skydiver and canopy parallel to the ground. There are variations between Square and Elliptical, some called Semi-Elliptical.

End cell

The set of cells of the canopy that is furthest from the center.

Exit weight

The total weight of the jumper and all gear and clothing.


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Tuffet - Accuracy tuffet

Description here

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A term that means toggles - This is done to mess with new skydivers - If you call them a yonkles you are the butt of a joke.


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