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Skydiving Slang Glossary

All my posts so far have been lengthy stories which are generally peppered with profanities. Maybe you’re getting tired of that?

Or maybe I’m going awry simply by assuming that anyone is reading this. Helloooooo (hello, hello, hello)!? It’s possible that only Adam and Mike read this, and they only do so make sure the crazy new American blogger isn’t endangering their reputation or otherwise destroying the whole project.

(Also: Am I cursing too much? Heightened emotion makes me curse and skydiving really pushes those buttons. And also, I like to curse. It’s how I express my subversive side. Sorry. As a writer, I know I should be more of a wordsmith and find other ways to express myself. But sometimes a good f-bomb is the most pithy form of expression. It’s a crutch. I got it.)

So, to break things up from a blow by blow account of every jump I have ever made, I though I’d share a little skydiving vernacular with you. If you jump, you prolly already know all this, but you might want to use it as a training manual for friend and family who never know what the heck you’re talking about anymore.

This is only a slang glossary (and some may be slang they only use at my home drop zone for all I know) and I will give you a more technical glossary later. There are a lot of new terms and the last thing you want to be is the moron who doesn’t know the difference between a hop ‘n pop and the love sac (which kinda could be the same thing, depending on interpretation). Just don’t hop ‘n pop in the love sac, whatever you do, because that’s nasty.

Blue Skies: Blue skies is the quintessential skydiving greeting and salutation. It’s like the word “aloha” in Hawaii; it can be used both in greeting and in departure. I think of it as a benediction. It is both practical (yes, we want the skies of blue so we can jump, jump, jump) and spiritual. It is sacred phrase. Use it often and mean it.

First: If you are beginning to skydive, try to forget that you even know this word. If you utter it, you owe a case of beer. You will be tempted to utter it several times a day for while. Do not be lulled into false security. They will get you to say it. They are very tricksy and they know you are a beer bringing machine and they are very thirsty. Learn to play dumb and you might only have to bring 10-20 cases of beer in your first months rather than the 40 or so you really owe.


Veteran Skydiver: (to me as we load the bus) “Hey Mar! Wow! Great jumpsuit! How many times have you jumped it?”

Me: (moronically excited) “It’s my first jump in this one! Isn’t it great?!!!”

Veteran: “Muaaahhh hah hah hah! BEEER!!! Everyone! Look! Mar owes beer! Gotcha!”

Me: (calculating in my head) “So that’s like five cases I need to bring next weekend. Crap. I’ve never owed more than three before.”

Veteran: “Oh, really? How many times?”

Me: (getting wiser) “Uh. Nothing. Nevermind.” (I am now afraid to speak around the veterans).

In fact, come to think of it, you owe me beer for reading this post the first time. I like Stella or Leinenkugels. Thanks.


Whuffo: (alternate spelling = Wuffo) A whuffo is a derogatory word for a non-jumper. It is specifically reserved for those who don’t get it. It is derived from the classic response “What for you gonna jump out of perfectly good airplane”. Generally someone who says this to you doesn’t even deserve a response. You now know that  their narrow narrow mind cannot conceive of what we do. (This is different than those who are afraid to do what we do, or even those who really don’t want to do it, but still support us in our passions anyway.)

Here are  a few suggested responses if you ever feel like taking on a whuffo. (Remember: this is futile, but can be fun. Especially when drinking.)

Dumbass: “Why would you jump out of  a perfectly good airplane?” (when they say this, they will be preening, because they think for unknown reasons that they have said something clever or original, rather than understanding that they have just tossed off the lamest bon mot in the history of mankind after “I carried a watermelon”)

Option One

You: You have never seen our airplanes. (This is a pretty truthful response. But don’t tell my mom.)

Option Two

You: There is no such thing as a perfectly good airplane. (The philosophical approach)

Option Three

You: Because the door was open. (My favorite. You can’t argue with this one.)

100 Jump Wonder: This is a derogatory term for a new jumper who thinks they know it all. It is short hand for egotistical, self centered, cocky and pathologically clueless.

It comes up in sentences like “I also remember watching a self-proclaimed 100-jump wonder pound into the ground and break his femur, because he thought he knew more than he actually did.”

Just don’t be that guy. Or girl. At best you will be very annoying. At worst, you will bounce.

SkyGod: Don’t let this one confuse you. It is not a good thing. It means your ego has run away from you. (SkyGod is also a delightful facebook friend. Check him out. His antics amuse and inspire.)

Land off: You did not land in the designated landing area. This could happen for a variety of reasons.

1) You screwed up. You didn’t go where you were supposed to go. You weren’t paying attention. You tracked the wrong way or too far.

2) You were too far downwind of the landing zone. This can happen to students because your canopy is huge and you cannot penetrate (another nice piece of suggestive slang. Try to ignore it) and make forward momentum. If you look between your feet aloft as you head into the wind and the ground doesn’t move under you, you cannot penetrate the wind. You’re screwed.

3) You had a bad “spot”. This means when you jumped, you thought you were in a good place and you could get where you need to, but you were wrong. A bad spot is always your own fault, no matter what other jumpers did.

Outcome: You land somewhere else. You avoid power lines and trees and Farmer McNasty. You wait for someone to find you and pick you up or else you walk a long way. You probably owe beer.

Bounce: This is bad. It means you landed at a speed which literally causes you to bounce. It implies fatality. Don’t do it. You will not owe beer after this one.

Hop ‘N Pop: This means you jump out of the plane at a lower altitude and deploy your canopy as soon as you get stable, usually within a few seconds. Classic hop ‘n pop altitude as 3,500 feet. Why would you do this, you ask. It is something you must do once as part of your A license because this is how you would exit the plane in case of an emergency. Lots of high performance sport jumper (like swoopers) do this on purpose all day long because they are all about the canopy work and landing.

Hop ‘n pops often make tandem students freak out, which is pretty entertaining. It is disconcerting to watch people jump so early and then have to wait another 15 minutes for your turn. I was totally freaked when I did mine. At my drop zone, we hop and pop at 5,000 feet and it still made me very nervous, even though I had loads of time to get stable and deploy. It is a different psychological game. You think about different things.

Stupid Hurts: This is self explanatory. When you do dumb things in skydiving, you can hurt yourself. Prolly will hurt yourself. You’ll hear the phrase around. Take it seriously.

Sunset Load: This is the last load of the day, which unsurprisingly happens at sunset. This is a fun load for a number of reasons. The tandems are usually done and it’s mostly all fun jumpers and regulars. It is beautiful! Skydivers love the sky and really appreciate the beauty of a sunset. It has a more relaxed and playful atmosphere. People do interesting things like jump naked.

There is also the Sun Done Set Load, which is when the sun actually sets as you go up (due to bad timing) and then you jump in the dusk. It’s also pretty, and pretty dark. I was on this load recently (by accident). I jump in sunglasses and once you get under canopy it is waaay dark. So, you take off your glasses for the rest of the ride.

Target practice: I think this is unique to my drop zone. This means that a dog (or occasionally a child) is not where they are supposed to be and in danger of getting tagged by the DZO’s BB gun. We have an extremely dog friendly drop zone and there are usually five or more dogs wandering around on any given day. They are not allowed in the hangar because that is where we pack the chutes. My dog is golden retriever so she LOVES to go in the hangar and meet all the nice people. She also loves to swim in the pond and then wander around wetly, looking for someone to shake off near. She might as well have a bulls-eye painted on her butt. As much as she loves it there, I try to only bring her when I really need to because of a super long day or an overnight.

Love Sac: The love sac is a giant, very soft, very comfortable, bean bag thingy. It sits in the hangar all day and many naps are taken there. It is extra nice because it is so big, two to three people can fit in comfortably. The brand name is lovesac. That is not why it is referred to as the love sac though. It has earned the name “love sac” after hours. Enough said.

There. We ended on a “up” note.  (HA! I crack myself up) Hope you learned something. Let me know if there is something else you’d like me to define. If I don’t know, I’ll make it up, just like I did here.