There are a few long-established customs within the world of skydiving. It does not take long in the sport to become privy to these skydiving traditions. And I am going to warn you, a lot of these skydiving rituals involve beer! Skydivers have always been known to be a bit of a wild group of kinfolk. And so, it shouldn’t be a surprise that we have some pretty interesting and strange skydiving traditions. Lets check out the top 5 skydiving traditions, which I am sure you have partaken in yourself if you are a jumper!
The beer line
The first rule of the landing area is – DON’T CROSS THE BEER LINE. Just kidding there is a lot of important rules for flying safely in the landing area. But this rule is not to be taken lightly! The beer line at a drop zone is located in the landing area. Generally speaking it is a invisible line which borders an area that is unsafe to land your canopy. And you might be thinking, invisible? How would anyone know? Well, we know. The beer line is made clear to all jumpers when they are briefed for flying at each drop zone. Even if a jumper slightly crosses the beer line, for whatever reason, it counts. The tradition holds that they owe beer to the drop zone community, after the last load of the day. (Or the next time you come the drop zone).
If you are sitting around the DZ and you suddenly hear “BEER”! Well, you can assume that a skydiver has made the fateful error of crossing the beer line. Some drop zones even keep a log book, or beer bible if you will, which keeps tabs on who owes and who has paid up!
Alright, so I told you, many of our skydiving traditions involve beer. Skydivers have just always appreciated a nice cold beer after a day of jumping!
So lets talk about beer fines. As mentioned with the beer line, once you cross to the dark side, you owe beer to the drop zone community. This is a beer fine. However, there are also another instance where you are obligated to pay a beer fine. This is when a skydiver makes a first! It is a celebration, and when a successful “first” is completed, they pay beer fines for us all to celebrate. Don’t worry, skydivers from all levels can experience first, and therefore we are constantly sharing and celebrating achievements with beer fines together.
What’s a first?
Wondering what counts as a first? Well it can literally be anything! You made your first jump solo after AFF – BEER! Your first successful speed star formation? Making your first helicopter jump? First time jumping your own pack job? Going for your first wingsuit rodeo? First naked jump? Well you get my point. In fact, after a while some of us keep our firsts quiet, because we don’t want to get a beer. But be sure to not tell anyone, because as soon as you say the word “first” at the drop zone, you are gonna hear it….BEER!!
Although, sometimes for some reason or another, some skydivers are not able to provide beer, perhaps because they are underage, or in recovery. But don’t worry, there are other ways to pay a beer fine! Bringing a case of sodas, waters, freezer pops, or even a box of donuts! You can be creative in your way of paying your “beer fine”. Of course beer fines is a voluntary skydiving tradition, however if you don’t pay your fines, you cannot enjoy the fines of others!
A pie in your face!
Yes, you read that right, getting a pie in your face is another skydiving ritual. However, it is with great honour to be pied by your loving skydiving community! Let me explain…
Receiving a pie to your face is a great treat, and I am not being punny! This means you are celebrating a milestone jump in your skydiving career. When someone makes their 100th skydive, once they land on the ground they get pied by their friends. Another milestone jump for pieing would be your 1000th jump, and there are more milestones to come if you keep jumping!
Once the skydiver lands after their milestone jump, they are welcomed with a pie….in the face! Well, first they are allowed to remove their skydiving gear, but then its fair game. Some drop zones like to wait until later in the night, when the skydiver least expects it….and then BAM! A pie to the face. It is a rule that the persons who are doing the pieing must have more jumps then the person they are pieing. So it is a privilege as well to get to smash a pie into a friends face! Yes, this is a strange skydiving tradition.
Buy your rigger a bottle!
So when a skydiver has to cut away their main parachute, they are saved by their reserve. A reserve parachute is always packed by a licensed rigger. This is a very important pack job, because it is your life saver, you only have one back up parachute. When you have the unfortunate incident of needing to use your reserve parachute, you must pay thanks to your rigger. They saved your live more or less and they deserve some appreciation! So there is a skydiving tradition that when you use your reserve parachute, you buy your rigger a bottle. Be sure to talk to your rigger and see what their favourite is. Or as always, if they don’t care for alcohol, you can find another creative way to say thank you, like buying them lunch!
Stamp on your forehead
Another theme of skydiving traditions seem to involve getting something right in the face. This is a custom in USPA skydive licensing, where when a new skydiver completes there A-license, they get an A-licensed stamp to the face. This is actually the same stamp that is used to stamp their paperwork application for their license! Their is often a hall of fame, or wall of photos, at drop zones to showcase their skydivers achievements. To get your A-license you need to complete your AFF program and complete 25 free fall jumps. So it is a great moment of passage to get your skydiving license and your stamp to the forehead!
Keep coming back
These skydiving traditions are an example of the fun, and rather bizarre people that make up our community. We love to have a good time, and celebrate with each other. These long standing skydiving rituals play a big role in growing the community feeling between us skydivers, and making us all feel welcomed. So it might seem a bit strange from the outside, but these skydiving traditions are rights of passage, and are customs we are proud to be part of!
If you like the article, please let me know, send me an email or a message on Instagram. I want to know about your experience and thoughts!
Follow me on Instagram: @augustobartelle
Like the Fan Page on Facebook!
Support this blog by wearing our Colorful Jersey. Find more at our Online Store – www.ColorfulJerseys.com