Skydiving, like most sports, has its own jargon - which can be confusing to begin with. Here's our jargon-buster guide to what it all means. And if you come across any other terms you think we should add, please let us know.

4, 8, 16 etc

4-WAY Formation of 4 people or canopies; similarly 8-way, 16-way, etc


A/C Aircraft

AAD Automatic Activation Device.  A back-up device that initiates deployment of the reserve parachute in emergencies.  Common types include 'Cypres' and 'FXC 1200'.

ACCURACY A competition discipline in which the skydiver tries to land on, or as close as possible to, a small target disc

AFF Accelerated Free Fall, intensive course to learn skydiving

AFF BI Accelerated freefall basic instructor

AFF I Accelerated freefall instructor

AGL Above ground level

ALTI (METER) Mechanical device used for measuring altitude

AUDIBLE ALTI A device placed in the helmet which bleeps to indicate pre-set altitude

APA Army Parachute Association


ARTISTIC EVENTS Freeflying, freestyle & skysurfing

ASPECT RATIO The width of a ram-air canopy divided by its length

ATMONAUTI A type of freeflying where skydivers fly at an angle between head-down and flat

ATC Air Traffic Control


BAG LOCK A malfunction where the lines have deployed but the canopy is still in the bag

BCPA British Collegiate Parachute Association

BELLY FLYING Freefalling in a belly to earth position, ie formation skydiving

BI Basic instructor

BIG-WAY Big formation, around 20 or larger

BIRDMAN Wingsuit manufacturer

BOC Bottom of container (main parachute deployment)

BOOGIE Fun skydiving event

BOOTIES Shoe-covers on jumpsuits which add power

BPA British Parachute Association, the UK governing body for sport parachuting

BPA A LICENCE  Parachuting qualification awarded by the BPA on the achievement of Cat 8 & CH1

BPA B LICENCE  awarded for achieving BPA A Licence, 50 descents, CH2 & JM1

BPA C LICENCE awarded for achieving BPA B Licence, 200 descents & another grade 1

BPA D LICENCE awarded for achieving BPA C Licence & 1,000 descents

BRAKES Used to steer ram-air canopie

BREAK-OFF When jumpers in freefall leave each other to find space to deploy safely

BRIDLE A line attaching the pilot chute to the top skin of the canopy

BUM SPOT Leaving the aircraft at the wrong place

BUNGEE Rubber band used for stowing line


CAA Civil Aviation Authority, a government agency responsible for safety and operations in UK airspace

CATEGORY 8 OR CAT 8 BPA qualification where the jumper progresses from student to intermediate skydiver

CATEGORY SYSTEM BPA progression system for student and intermediate skydiver

CI Chief Instructor

CF Canopy formation, linking ram-air canopy

CF1 BPA canopy formation qualification, grade 1

CH1 & CH2 BPA canopy handling qualifications, grades 1 & 2

CLASSICS Style and accuracy

CLOSING LOOP Piece of line used to close the container

CONTAINER The harness and pack that parachutes are contained in

CORK To fall off a freefly position, decelerating rapidly and popping up like a cork in relation to other

CP1 & CP2 BPA canopy piloting qualifications, grades 1 & 2

CRAB Point canopy across wind line (you travel sideways)

CREEPER A board with wheels which formation skydivers manoeuvre to prepare their skydive

CReW Canopy relative work, old term for CF, canopy formation

CSBI Category system basic instructor

CSI Category system instructor

CUT Command given to the pilot to slow the aircraft speed for jumpers to exit

CUTAWAY Jettison of main canopy, usually after a malfunction



DC Dead centre, the top score in accuracy

DELAY A period of time in freefall, eg 10 second delay

DEMO A parachute jump performed at a public event

DIRT-DIVE Preparing skydiving sequences on the ground

DOCK Take up a grip on a formation (canopy or freefall)

DOWNPLANE Canopy formation with two jumpers linking legs and flying their canopies straight down

DOWNWIND Flying a canopy in the same direction as the wind

DP OR DRCP Dummy pull, or dummy ripcord pull (same)

DUMMY PULL Simulated pull sequence

DUMP Deploy canopy

DZ Drop zone, landing area for parachutist


EAS European Air Sport - represents European National Aero Clubs and Air Sports Organizations in Regulatory Matters with European Authorities and Institutions.

EASA European Air Safety Agency  an official European Union body responsible for the EU's strategy for aviation safety

EPU European Parachuting Union - members are national governing bodies, the BPA represents the UK

ESL European Skydiving League, a series of competitions over Europe

EXIT Leave the aircraft and enter freefall


F111 Fairly porous fabric used on accuracy canopy

FAA Federal Aviation Administration, US equivalent of the CAA

FAI Federation Aeronautique Internationale, the international governing body for airsports

FF1 & FF2 BPA freeflying qualifications, grades 1 & 2

FLARE To pull down both brakes on a ram-air canopy to turn forward speed into lift for a soft landing

FLAT FLYING Formation skydiving

FLAT LINE Continuous warning tone from audible alti at the lowest pre-set altitude

FLOATER Exit position where the jumper is outside the aircraft

FLOCK A group of wingsuited skydiver

FORMATION Two or more jumpers linked, in freefall or under canopy

FRAPPE HAT Leather helmet with neoprene padding

FREE BAG Bag the reserve canopy is packed into; this is not attached to the canopy; hence 'free'

FREEFLYING Freefalling in any orientation

FREESTYLE An artistic event of aerial gymnastics 

FS Formation skydiving

FS1 BPA formation skydiving qualification, grade 1

FUNNEL Skydive formation or launch which collapse

FXC Type of AAD


GATW Good all the way (student critique)

GLIDE RATIO Ratio of forward movement to descent rate under canopy

GPS Global Positioning System (Navigation system used by aircraft)

GRAND PRIX Series of BPA competitions leading to an overall award, now called UKSL in FS 

GRIP Handle on a jumpsuit used for formations and exit

GROUNDRUSH The illusion of the ground appearing to accelerate towards you


HALF SERIES Style manoeuvre; two 360 degree turns and a backloop

HARNESS Parachute webbing assembly, part of container system

HEAD-DOWN Stable freeflying position where the jumper is upside down

HOLDING Facing canopy into the wind

HOOK KNIFE Small knife with protected blade carried in case of line tangle

HOOK TURN Fast turn near the ground for landing at high speed

HOP 'N' POP A very short freefall delay

HYBRID Combining freeflying and belly flying


IC1 BPA individual canopy qualification, grade 1

IPC International Parachuting Commission of the FAI

IS1 BPA individual style qualification, grade 1

JM Jumpmaster, person in charge of the parachutists in the aircraft

JM1 BPA jumpmaster qualification, grade 1

JSPC Joint Services Parachute Centre (group of five parachute centres around the world, formed for servicemen)

JUMP RUN Final line the aircraft takes to reach the exit point (the spot)

JUMPMASTER Experienced skydiver responsible for jumpers in the aircraft and where to exit


KILL LINE Line which collapses the pilot chute after a canopy opens, to reduce drag


LAC Launch and accuracy (competition scored on exit and accuracy landings)

LAUNCH Two or more jumpers exiting together

LIFT / LOAD Group of people going to altitude in one aircraft


MAIN Primary parachute

MAL When a parachute fails to open properly; also called malfunction

MANIFEST List of jumpers on board the aircraft

MANIFESTOR Person who allocates jumpers to each load


NAC National Aero Club.  The National representative of the FAI, which is the RAeC in the UK

NATIONALS National championships, annual BPA competitions to select British teams for the World Meet


OPEN Of competitions: (1) open to both genders; (2) open to all nationalities

OPENING POINT The point on the ground above which a canopy should open to be set up to land in the target area

OPENING SHOCK The force felt on the body due to sudden deceleration as the canopy open


PARA-SKI Event combining parachuting accuracy and slalom skiing

PIA Parachute Industry Association, US-based international trade association of manufacturers of parachute kit, etc

PILOT CHUTE A small parachute released by a skydiver to open the main parachute

PIN (1) When a jumper joins another, in freefall or under canopy;  (2) Closing device for container

PJI Parachute jumping instructor

PLA Parachute landing area

PLF Parachute landing fall

POINT A successfully completed formation

POPS Parachutists Over 'Phorty' Society for jumpers aged 40+

POROSITY The amount of air that will pass through a given area of material (see ZP)

PRO-PACKING Way of packing a ram-air parachute while standing up

PULL-OUT Method of deployment where the pilot chute is packed inside the container, the owner pulls out both the pin and the pilot chute

PULL Deploy a parachute

PULL-UP CORD Length of binding tape used to close a parachute container



RAeC Royal Aero Club, the National Aero Club (NAC) of the UK - the UK representative of the FAI

RAPA Rhine Army Parachute Association (based at Bad Lippspringe in Germany)

RAM-AIR Aerofoil parachute, also called square even though the shape is nearer rectangular

RAPS Ram-air progression system, to learn skydiving

RELATIVE WORK Old name for formation skydiving

RIG A container and harness including main and reserve parachute

RIGGER Person qualified to construct, modify and repair parachutes and related equipment

RISER Webbing strip joining the parachute lines to the harnes

ROUND A circular parachute of classic shape

RSL Reserve static line, joining main parachute to the reserve opener, which deploys the reserve on releasing the main

RUN-IN Final line the aircraft takes, into wind, to reach the exit point (the spot)

RUNNING Flying the canopy in the same direction as the wind

RW Relative work, ie formation skydiving


SERIES Style manoeuvre; two 360 degree turns and a backloop and repeat in the opposite direction, also called full serie

SIT-FLYING Freefalling in a sitting position

SKYDIVE U Skydive University, a worldwide training system for formation skydiving

SKYSURFING Skydiving on a surfboard

SLIDER Device to slow down the deployment of a ram-air parachute by sliding down the suspension line

SNIVEL Extremely slow opening of a canopy

SOS Society of Skydivers Over Sixty (see link on POPS website)

SPEED A competitive event where jumpers build a formation as quickly as possible

SPEED SKYDIVING Competition where jumpers try to freefall as fast as possible, usually in a head-down diving position

SPOT (1) The ideal exit point allowing for wind drift to reach the target; (2) The action of finding this point

SQUARE A ram-air parachute (actually rectangular or elliptical)

SS1 & SS2 BPA skysurfing qualifications, grades 1 and 2

STACK Ram-air canopies linked vertically above each other

STALL Pulling the brakes down on a ram-air canopy so far it loses forward speed and collapse

STAND-UP (1) Vertical freefall position, crucifix style ;  (2) Landing without rolling or falling over

STATIC LINE Line attached to the aircraft which deploys the main parachute as the jumper exit

STC Safety and Training Committee (of the BPA). A Committee of Council, made up by CIs, who make appropriate decisions on safety and training

STREAMER Malfunction where the main canopy has left the bag but not inflated at all. Also sometimes a slang name for a WDI

STYLE The execution of a specific set of freefall manoeuvres in the shortest possible time

SWOOP High speed landing


TANDEM A skydive for two in a dual harnes

THREE-RING CIRCUS Device to attach the main risers to the harness, which provides an easy release mechanism for the main canopy

THROWAWAY Type of deployment where the pilot chute is packed externally in a pocket and is thrown into the air

TI Tandem Instructor, qualified to take a student for a tandem jump

TOGGLES Steering loops on the risers, also called brake

TOTAL Malfunction where there is nothing slowing the jumper down

TRACK To move fast horizontally in freefall, often to achieve separation from other

TSE Thomas Sports Equipment (British rig manufacturer)

TSO Technical Safety Order US (A standard for US rigs)

TUBE Large windsock structure taken on a skydive for fun, usually freeflying


UKS, the UK's online community of skydivers - an independent website

UKSL United Kingdom Skydiving League, a series of linked competitions (run in parallel with ESL)

USPA United States Parachute Association



VGT Very good throughout (student critique)

VFS Vertical Formation Skydiving, building formations while head-up or head-down. Also called VRW

VRW Vertical Relative Work, another name for VFS


WARP Worldwide advanced relative work progression, a system for post Cat 8

WDI Wind drift indicator (pronounced 'widdy'), thrown from the aircraft to determine the opening point

WIND LINE A line through the target in the wind direction

WIND TUNNEL Freefall simulator for skydiving indoor

WINGSUIT Suit with fabric between the legs and arms to increase lift and hence freefall time

WHUFFO Person who doesn't skydive

WRAP One or more canopies wrapped around each other or a jumper


ZOO A jump that didn't go quite as planned!

ZP Zero porosity fabric which does not allow air through it, used for high performance canopies

Updated 17 September 2019

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