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The Culture of Skydiving


Have you ever wanted the chance to glance behind the curtain? To see what really goes on behind the scenes in skydiving culture? Well, here it is!

Skydiving culture is shrouded in a bit of mystery. As is the case with many non-mainstream sports, like surfing, skateboarding, or rock climbing, not much is known by the outside world about the true nature of skydiving culture. 

The culture of skydiving is so captivating that it has even been academically reviewed. Back in 2011, a Western Kentucky University student named Steven Wade published an Honors College Anthropology Capstone thesis titled “The Culture of Skydiving.” The ethnography was dedicated to delving into this largely unexplored cultural territory. Now, if reading academic texts isn’t your strong suit, don’t fret. You don’t have to delve into science and research to unearth the nuances of skydiving traditions or culture. Lean in close. We will give you the scoop!

The Culture Of Skydiving | Skydive California

Shared Values

Skydiving culture has many shared values. In general, there is an emphasis on building community, individual growth, and establishing a procedural routine.

Specifically, at Skydive California, we believe in passion, professionalism, and fun. So much so, skydiving fun is one of our five key operating principles. At Skydive California, we believe you don’t have to sacrifice safety for fun: the two can go hand in hand.

You can see how important fun is to skydiving culture on any given Saturday at the dropzone. From the constant jubilant whoops and hollers from jumpers to the palpable excitement in the air, there’s an atmospheric bubble of fun that surrounds the dropzone. 

There’s also the delightfully silly things we do in the air to keep the sport lighthearted. We often exit the aircraft in topsy turvy ways with names like horny gorilla, where three or more jumpers interlace legs and exit in a little tangle only to end up upright and often excitedly and jokingly beating their chests like King Kong. Or the slightly convoluted tube exit, where one jumper lies down on their back with legs hanging out the edge of the door, a second straddles them to grab their leg straps, and a third jumper grabs the leg straps of the second while the jumper laying down grabs the leg straps of the third and they tumble through the tour like a wagon wheel rolling down a hill. (See, we told you it’s a little convoluted!) 

The point is, while we respect the sport and the risks involved, skydivers like to keep things fun!

Skydiving Community

A sense of community is particularly important to skydiving culture. This is facilitated by onsite cookouts, fireside chats, and other community-driven gatherings. Another facet of skydiving culture is a commitment to building relationships not only at the dropzone but also off-site. It’s not uncommon to find skydivers congregating and hanging out outside of jumping business hours. When a person starts skydiving, they are welcomed and often become an integral part of a familial group united by a love for the sport. 

Specific Rites

Skydiving culture is also characterized by certain specific rites. Though some may vary from dropzone to dropzone, there are general commonalities. Take for example the custom of the “A License” stamp. 

When a student skydiver finally completes all the required criteria to receive their A license, it’s a big day. As such, it’s celebrated across the dropzone with a host of cheers and, often, a group photo with the recipient. Now, how might this A license recipient be distinguished from every other jumper, you ask? Why, the A license stamp, of course! The stamp in question goes on the student’s paperwork to confirm they’ve passed the test … and on the newly licensed jumper’s forehead! Throughout the day, the stamp-sporting jumpers are easily singled out and congratulated by all for their achievement! 

Another common skydiving rite is used to celebrate making their one hundredth jump.

When someone has completed their hundredth jump or another milestone, they often take a pie in the face. This is how it works. Usually, a friend or fellow jumper will fill a pie tin with whipped cream and then, with discretion, the skydiver-of-the-hour is led to an open area and distracted. Then, quick as a flash of lighting, the pie is planted on their unsuspecting face. This act is entirely good-natured, albeit a bit messy, and pretty tasty too! 

Building Community with Skydiving | Skydive California

Do A Little Fieldwork

The best way to get a feel for skydiving culture is to make a jump yourself. How about a little fieldwork? Schedule your skydive with Skydive California today!

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