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Skydiving Terms & Abbreviations


"Automatic Activation Device". A altitude sensing device used to automatically activate the opening sequence for a parachute.


"Accelerated FreeFall". A training program for first jump students where the skydiving skills development rate is accelerated over that of the older static line program.


A gathering of jumpers for the purposes of jumping and socializing. Typically, boogies will have large aircraft, unusual aircraft (balloons, helicopters), special events (record attempts), or some sort of competition as a focal point to attract jumpers from widely diverse regions.




"Canopy Formation Skydiving". The new "official" term for a discipline of skydiving in which jumpers *under canopy* fly their parachutes together to form various formations. However, most skydivers still refer to it as "CRW". (See CRW.)


"Canopy Relative Work". Describes the maneuvering done by jumpers *under canopy* to fly their parachutes together to form various formations. Sometimes referred to as CReW (Crew). See CFS.


"Drop Zone". A place where parachuting operations take place. This is may be a designated area, or frequently, a commercial business which supplies aircraft, instruction, gear sales and services.

Exit Weight

The weight of the skydiver on exit determined by adding the weight of the skydiver with their gear. Used to determine Wing Loading (see wing loading)


to pull down on both of the canopy's steering toggles in order to lower decent rate and forward speed just prior to landing. The forward speed is traded-off for lift. A flare performed too late has no effect, a flare performed too early can result in a stall in which the canopy looses forward speed and drops straight down. A correctly performed flare results in an exceptionally soft landing.


"Formation Skydiving". The new "official" term for a discipline of skydiving in which two or more jumpers fly relative to each other *in freefall* in order to form various formations. However, most skydivers refer to it as Relative Work, or "RW." (See RW.)

Hook turn

A high-speed turn with either the steering toggles or the front risers performed at very low altitude in order to build up speed before landing. This is a high-speed style of landing. The jumper builds up speed and then flares mere moments before touchdown, resulting in a spectacular landing in which the jumper skims mere inches above the ground at 30-40mph, for up to 100 yards. Or, if the jumper flares too late, resulting in a spectacular landing in which the jumper impacts the ground, leading to medical bills, orthopedic surgery, and/or death. Attempt this maneuver at your own risk!


"Instructor Assisted Deployment". A form of deployment where and instructor deploys the student's parachute until the studnt has been cleared to pull for themselves.


"JumpMaster". A jumper trained and certified to supervise students and/or novices during their jump.


the primary parachute.

Opening shock

The force experienced by the jumper due to the sudden deceleration from terminal velocity due to the deployment of a parachute.


"Practice Throw Out" A student using either Static Line or IAD uses a mock deployment setup to both practice finding the proper location while maintaining body position and to prove they are ready to begin pulling on their own.


"Relative Work". Describes the freefall maneuvering whereby two or more jumpers fly relative to each other *in freefall* in order to form various formations. (See FS).


the secondary, or backup, parachute.


a class of parachutes designed to simply decelerate a body in a fluid medium. The classic parachute.


a class of parachutes designed to inflate and take the shape of an airfoil. These are more accurately rectangular in shape and are semi-rigid wings.

Static Line

a form of deployment in which the main's deployment bag is connected to the plane and releases the canopy upon exit without any effort from the student.


"United States Parachute Association".


A person who is not a skydiver (from the often-asked phrase "Whuffo you jump out of them airplanes?").

Wing Loading

a measurement of how much total weight is supported by how large a wing, and is usually expressed in pounds per square foot. Everything the jumper exits with, including all clothing, the rig and both canopies must be included in the weight. The formula to determine wing load is to take the exit weight and divide it by the canopy size.

Example: Joe has an exit weight (Joe + gear) of 225 pounds and is jumping a 150 square foot canopy; Joe’s wing loading is 1:1.5.  It is common to drop the 1: and call it a 1.5 wing loading.  Joe would need at least 400 jumps and a C license for this canopy.

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