Skydiving glossary of terms: Know your bridle from you burble?

Nov 22, 2022 BY Paul McWilliams

Like many extreme sports, skydiving comes with its own lexicon of technical and slang terms that can be confusing to beginners. That’s why we’ve compiled this skydiving glossary of terms to help you feel at home when you’re learning how to jump.

**This article was updated in November 2022**

Skydiving glossary of terms flickr image by Wales Gibbons

No skydiving glossary of terms can be 100% complete as, like any language, the skydiving vocabulary is constantly changing. But these basics should cover everything you need to know, and if you’re ever unsure what something means, then just ask. It’s always better to know so you can focus on the jump….

Skydiving glossary of terms

Below you’ll find a detailed skydiving glossary of terms. Including definitions of skydive slang, parachuting lingo & technical skydive terms to help you learn your bridle from burble.


Automatic activation device that senses the rate of descent and altitude and activates the reserve below a set altitude.


Stands for accelerated free fall.


Stands for above ground level. Skydivers always use AGL when referring to altitude.


The speed at which you or the aircraft are flying through the air.

Angle of attack

The angle at which you are approaching the wind in descent.

Angle of incidence

The angle at which a canopy is trimmed for gliding.

Apparent wind

The wind perceived by an observer.

Skydiving glossary of terms Wikimedia image by Dregcla

Aspect ratio

The ratio of the canopy’s width to breadth.


To move backward in freefall relative to a neutral reference. This kind of movement is usually undesirable.


The deployment bag where you pack your canopy.


The core around which a formation skydive is built. Can be a single person or a group of people.

BASE jump

A jump made from a fixed object attached to the ground. BASE stands for building, antennae, spans (bridges) and earth (cliff). BASE jumping is one of the most dangerous extreme sports.


Stands for bottom of container and refers to the location of the pilot chute.

Body position

The position of the body in freefall.

Box man

A neutral, facing earth body position in which the arms form right angles at shoulder and elbow. It’s generally considered the ideal position for formation skydiving.


When the steering lines of the canopy are used together, they slow the parachute.

Break off

To come out of formation before opening your chute.


The thin webbing strap from the pilot chute to the top of the canopy.


Basic safety requirements.


The area of turbulence behind you as you move through the air.


The time given until your board the aircraft.


The fabric and lines device used to land safely after a freefall. A keyword in any skydiving glossary of terms.

Skydiving glossary of terms flickr image by Thraxil


The point where two lines join together so they run smoothly into one, reducing bulk and drag.


Canopies, usually square, made up of pressurized cells, usually seven or nine.

Centre point

The point around which movement takes place, usually considered to be in the middle of the torso.

Closing loop

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


The part of equipment that houses the canopy.


When a canopy is flown at an angle sideways to the ambient wind, resulting in movement that is sideways as well as forwards.


A board equipped with wheels where you practice freefall moves.

Cross ports

Holes in the ribs of a cell that allow air to flow through.


Canopy relative work involves flying with parachutes in close formation, sometimes holding other chutes in mid air


Having jumped recently.

Cut away

Essential in any skydiving glossary of terms, cutting away is a standard emergency procedure prior to deploying the reserve. Also known as a breakaway.


When you flatten out or reverse one’s body position from the normal arched box man

Data card

Every parachute carries a data card with information on the reserve parachute, including all relevant details.

Decision altitude

The altitude at which a skydiver is trained to begin execution of emergency procedures.

Deployment system

The parts of the parachute that control deployment of the canopy.

Detailed skydiving glossary of term Flickr image by Philip Leara

Dive loops

Loops on the front risers that make it easy to grip for steering purposes. Also called front riser loops.

Drop zone

Common term for a skydiving centre.

Exit weight

The total weight of the jumper plus all equipment.


A fabric commonly used in mid range canopies. Pronounced ‘F one eleven’.

Fall rate

The speed at which a diver falls.

Finger trap

A method of setting brakes in the desired position for the parachutes deployment.


Pulling down the brakes of the canopy in order to slow it down, resulting in a reduced descent rate.


Skydivers who leave the airplane before base are called floaters as they use a slow fall rate.


This occurs when one or more skydivers gets themselves in an unstable body position.

Glide ratio

The distance a canopy flies forward compared to downwards movement.


Using hands to hold onto other skydivers in freefall or during aircraft exits.


Holds built into formation skydiving jumpsuits.

Ground speed

The speed of an airplane or skydiver over the ground,  rather than through the air.

Hand deploy

To activate the parachute manually deploying the pilot chute.


The direction the aircraft, skydiver or parachute is facing.

Skydiving glossary of terms flickr image by Entrtaner


Flying directly into the ambient wind.

Hook knife

A small knife carried in the jumpsuit or on the parachute harness designed to cut lines or webbing

Hook turn

A turn of 90-degrees or more executed close to the ground.

Hot fuel

When the airplane does not shut down during fueling.

In date

A reserve packed within the previous 120 days is said to be ‘in date’.

Jump run

The flight path taken by the jump plane.


A garment designed for specific skydiving applications such as FS, freestyle or accuracy. Read this guide to tandem skydive clothing to find out more.


A jumpmaster has all of the privileges of an instructor except that they cannot supervise a first jump course, sign off licenses, or manage a student programme.

A guide to competition skydiving flickr image by Alexander Savin


A signal to move on to the next step in a skydive.

Line of flight

An imaginary line corresponding to the jump plane’s path over the ground.

Log book

A log of activity and achievements in order to document experience.


The mean sea level is used by pilots when defining altitude.


A list of skydivers in the plane

Out landing

Landing off target.


1) The skydiver who first gets to the base. 2) The act of docking on the base. 3) The closing pin of the home or reserve container.

Pilot chute

A small, round parachute that acts to extract the parachute from the container and deploy it.


A parachute landing fall is a technique used to minimize injury during rough landings.

Post dive

The review of a skydive after everyone has landed. A skydiving glossary of terms should come in handy here.

Pull out

A hand deployed pilot chute packed inside the container and pulled out using a handle.

Pull up cord

A piece of cord used to pull the closing loop through the grommets of the container.


The reserve static line is a line from the home risers to the reserve cable.

Relative wind

The apparent wind felt by a jumper in freefall.


The auxiliary parachute carried on every jump.

Rip cord

The deployment system on all reserves and most student parachutes.

Detailed skydiving glossary of term Flickr image by Mark Hills


Skydiver slang for the entire parachute.


Someone qualified to be pack parachute rigs.

Rigger’s certificate

The certificate possessed by a rigger as proof of qualifications.


The webbing that connects the harness to the suspension lines.


A formation where each skydiver grips the arms of those next to him, also known as a star.


When a canopy is flying with the ambient wind.


Safety and training advisor.


The skydiver’s information manual.


A single operation system which simplifies emergency procedures by combining the functions of the cut away and reserve handle.


Reserve parachutes have a small lead seal on a piece of red thread around the closing pin indicating the reserve has not been opened since it left the rigger’s hands.


A rectangular piece of nylon fabric with a grommet at each corner through which the canopy’s suspension lines are threaded.


Your position in the skydive or on the plane.

Skydiving glossary of terms Wikimedia image by Dwight Burdette


The position of the aircraft when the jumpers exit.


A ram air parachute as opposed to a round chute.


The vertical strips of cloth attached to the end cells of the canopy improving your ability to fly straight.


When the angle of attack becomes too high to sustain lift, the wing is stalled.

Static line

When the parachute deployment system is attached to the airplane with a cord, resulting in deployment immediately after exit.

Steering lines

Lines that run from the steering toggles on the rear risers to the trailing edge of the parachute.

Steering toggles

Handles attached to the end of the steering lines to facilitate their use.


A type of freefall competition where an individual skydiver attempts to execute moves in a specified time period.

Suspension lines

The lines from the risers to the canopy.


1) Diving down to a formation or individual in freefall. 2) To aggressively approach the landing area in order to produce a flat and exciting landing.

Skydiving glossary of terms flickr image by Wales Gibbons
Detailed skydiving glossary of terms. Definitions of skydive slang, parachuting lingo & technical skydive terms to help you learn your bridle from burble.


Parachute jumps in which two skydivers, usually an instructor and student, share one parachute.

Terminal velocity

The speed at which drag matches the pull of gravity, resulting in a constant fall rate. 


To assume a body position that creates a high forward speed.

Turn around load

When the aircraft does not shut down between loads, but lands and picks up skydivers for immediate departure


The upper winds at exit altitude.

Wave off

Prior to deployment a skydiver makes a clearly defined arm motion to indicate to others that he is about to open his parachute.

Detailed skydiving glossary of term Flickr image by Philip Leara


Wind drift indicator.


Many lighter skydivers wear a weight vest to give them a fast fall rate.

Wind line

An imaginary line from the desired landing area along the direction the wind is blowing.

Wing loading

The ratio of weight born by a wing to its surface area.

So, there you have a skydiving glossary of terms. We hope some of them come in useful. Check out our skydiving experiences to book a jump for yourself.


BASE Jumping, Skydiving
AFF (Accelerated Freefall), Airspeed, Canopy, CRW (Canopy Relative Work), DZ (dropzone), Freefall, Wingsuit Flying

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