Skydivers are an interesting breed.
These are people who throw themselves out of planes every weekend, spend way too many hours hanging out at dropzones, and are generally in their own little pocket of society.
This has led to skydivers developing a whole bunch of ‘quirks’ that seem to be unique to jumpers around the world. Now that I’ve noticed these I can’t unsee them, so I figured I might as well share!
If I’ve missed any, please do let me know! Let’s dive in.
The Constant High-Fives
Is there’s one thing you’ll see at an airfield, it’s high-fives.
This starts off after your first jump – you land in complete euphoria. You finally did it! Suddenly, everyone is giving you a high five! With your gear in one hand you eagerly high-five them back… this is great!
Then you do your second jump, another high 5! Your friend landed from their jump? High 5! Your pilot lands the plane and comes back in? High 5! The instructor gets you all prepped and briefed for your next jump? High 5! Your friend successfully goes to the bathroom? High 5! (You get the idea).
The 90’s Surfer Language
I don’t know what it is, but skydivers love pretending they’re surfers from the 80’s and 90’s.
Dude! Gnarly jump man! That’s so awesome.
If you’re around long enough, you might even heard a “that’s so rad dude” – the pinnacle of cheesy surfer talk.
I do have a theory on why skydivers talk like this. It’s because no-one can make fun of skydivers.
This is the main reason why skydivers talk like they do. Because who’s going to poke fun at it!? If your friend started saying ‘gnarly’, you’d be quick to make a joke out of it. But the gal who just leaped out a plane at 14,000ft, flew like a superhero through the air, swooped down, and landed her canopy with a powerslide? Hell, she could hit out with “oh my gawd that was just groovy!” and she’d still be a bonafide badass.
The Jokes (& Dark Humor)
Every group based around a hobby have their own jokes that they love – and skydivers are no exception. They do, however, love to add a twist of dark humor. Especially to scare nervous new jumpers!
(These are always meant in good faith, don’t worry).
Here’s a few classics that you’ll hear around the world:
- What’s the hardest thing about skydiving? The ground.
- If something goes wrong in a skydive, don’t worry! You’ve got the rest of your life to figure it out.
- You don’t need a parachute to go skydiving. You just need one if you want to go skydiving twice.
- If at first you don’t succeed… skydiving isn’t for you.
- Why don’t blind people skydive? Because it scares the hell out of the dog.
Here’s one that really got me as I was researching this article!
Other personal favorites are tandem instructors (with students attached to them in the plane) asking each other if that hook is meant to be there, or if they remembered to take their pills that day.
Not to forget the token statements about having taken off in more planes than they’ve landed in.
It’s funny how skydiving is a legitimate ‘sport’.
For the most part, this rigorous hobby involves sitting around and waiting on planes, sitting in planes, falling through the air, sitting under canopy, then hitting the airfield café or bar afterwards. It’s an intense set of activities that I’d only recommend to the most determined individuals.
Yes, as skydivers we do take our ‘sport’ very seriously! In fact, many skydivers are out training and practicing their sport every weekend. It’s a true testament to their fitness and commitment to training.
The Planes & Pilots
While many skydivers dream of jumping from big airbuses or old world war planes, the vast majority of airfields operate with a couple of Cessna planes.
These babies are something else. For weight and space we absolutely gut everything out of them. The pilot is often lucky to keep their chair! The only things left are a couple of yoga mats to sit on and the odd bit of equipment. Some even do away with the plane door!
Plus, I believe no pilot has more fun than a skydiving pilot. As long as they don’t mind all the above quirks, they get paid to take off and land constantly, pulling off hard turns to line up the flight paths for jumpers to exit.
Once they’re well known, and depending on the airfield, they can have a little fun, too. Diving the plane down after the last jumper or doing rapid u-turns isn’t unheard of. It’s also a fantastic way for student pilots to rack up their hours when training for their pilot’s license.
Well, that’s about all I can think of for now. I hope you’ve enjoyed this little insight into the quirks of the skydiving world!
Please note all of this is meant in good humor, as a skydiver myself I love our sport and it’s people. Just thought I’d point out a few commonalities I’ve noticed.
If you think I’ve missed anything, shoot me a message and I’ll extend the list!
Thanks for reading, and happy jumping.