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Dropzone Etiquette: How to Be Cool in Skydive School

There is a thing called dropzone etiquette and you'll do well to educate yourself before you go.

Dropzone etiquette and two humans sitting at table looking up towards sky.
The Skydive School | Dropzone Etiquette: How to be cool in Skydive School

Let's face it, dropzones are not all prim and proper places. Most skydivers are loose, laid-back lovers of life who just want to have a good time without rigid dropzone rules. Rules or no rules, common courtesy and general manners won't go astray.

In this post, we'll run through some universal dropzone etiquette that will help you slide into the skydiving community without stink eyes upon you.

Do Your Skydiving Homework

If you're learning to skydive solo and you've been given an online AFF course to sit prior to your First Jump Course at the dropzone, please complete the course with your full attention. Your FJC is held in a classroom setting and if you arrive unprepared, you may be hindering other students. If you're really keen on skydiving, do a little research and pay attention to the online course and the information that is given to you beforehand and everyone will benefit in the classroom and in the sky, especially you.

At The Skydive School, we keep classes small so we can give as much attention to each student as possible but please know: once you've completed your Learn to Skydive Solo AFF Course, there are heaps of online resources. Begin with your country's national governing body. In Australia, it's the Australian Parachute Federation and they have information for days online that will further your skydiving education and knowledge.

Orange parachute on floor and black and blue rig beside
The Skydive School | Dropzone Manners on Packing Mat | Photo Courtesy of Canva

DZ Etiquette On The Packing Mat

There are some basic rules on and around the packing mat. They are:

  • Do not walk on parachute lines or gear. Tread carefully and always walk around gear on the floor.

  • No open drinks or smoking. Nobody wants a wet or burnt parachute.

  • Pack in a timely manner. Do not lay your rig down and walk away. An area on the packing mat is often prime real estate.

  • Don't leave your personal belongings on the mat.

Cleaning and Tidying at The Dropzone

Unless you're bringing Mum to the DZ, clean up after yourself. And even if you are bringing Mum, be an adult and clean up after yourself. Remember, if we collectively make a mess, we need to collectively clean it up. Here are some tips:

  • If you make a coffee, use a plate or bowl, wash and dry your dishes.

  • If you dirty the toilet, clean it!

  • Remove your items from the packing mat (or they may go walkabout).

  • Put rubbish in the bin.

  • Add cans and bottles to the recycling bins.

  • In general, clean up after yourself.

Share The Sky, Don't Lie

This is not only dropzone etiquette, this is a safety issue.

A full plane of skydivers means many bodies in the air, then under canopy. It's important to plan your jump and know what everyone onboard is planning for their jump. This is why we have a loadmaster. The loadmaster is responsible for organising the exit order of each skydiver or group of skydivers. It is important to tell the loadmaster your jump plans as this will determine the exit order and the safety of everyone. Stay within the boundaries of your student status or skydiving license and never lie to the loadmaster about your jump plans. 💡 Always be aware of your surroundings and your fellow jumpers and everyone will be safer for it.

log book of cartons owed
The Skydive School | Carton Culture

Carton Currency

Best believe skydivers like to drink beer (not during jumping hours, of course) and they'll find any excuse for YOU to be the one to buy it. Most "firsts" will be "a carton", which means you are expected to buy a carton of beer or your preferred drink to share with the community. Your first skydive at the dropzone, your first time jumping a new parachute, your first anything. They'll also get you for milestone jumps...100th, 200th, and so on. But, it's not only "firsts". If you have a malfunction, or if you pack a mal for someone else, or you land off the dropzone, or you screw up in any way, you'll be required to pay a fine of one carton. If you're under the legal drinking age or you do not drink, you are not expected to partake in this skydiver payment custom. If you're not going to drink it, don't buy it. Non-alcohol "cartons" can also be paid (soft drinks).

💡 All DZs are different. Some may have an onsite bar, which will require you to buy directly from that bar. Some DZs may not allow alcohol onsite. Always ask "first" 😉

Pets and Kids at The DZ

The Skydive School operates at Hillman Farm Airport, which is located on private farmland with roaming sheep, therefore, dogs are not allowed. There are dog-friendly dropzones around but please ask before arriving with your fur baby

Same goes for kids. Many dropzones are kid and family-friendly but some places may not appreciate small children. If your rugrats are welcome, please be sure to teach them about dropzone safety like no playing in the landing area or near the aircraft.

Aircraft with skydivers sitting inside
The Skydive School | Be Cool in the Aircraft

In and Around The Aircraft

Behaviour in and around the aircraft is a major safety issue. On the outside, do not walk in front of the aircraft, near the propeller. If the plane is hot loading, wait for your loadmaster to direct jumpers into the plane once it's stationary (the aircraft will be idling when you board).

Inside the plane, be still. Gently wiggle into your seat, buckle up, check your BOC and handles repeatedly and stay as still as possible. Too much movement can dislodge your pins, pilot chute, or someone else's.

Personal Hygiene at The Skydiving Centre

Skydiving aircrafts are tight spaces that require you to get up close and personal with your fellow skydiver. Please have some sensitivity for other people's nostrils and maintain good personal hygiene before getting on a load.

Skydiving Advice and Education

Most sport dropzones will cater to a wide range of skydiving license and skill. It's great because that skill and knowledge is often shared around and it makes for an amazing community of proficient skydivers.

But if you are a student skydiver, please do not seek advice or schooling from anyone other than your instructor. And if you're an accomplished skydiver, please do not give advice to student skydivers. Always direct students to their skydive school instructors.

Skydiver walking across a country paddock with colourful parachute
The Skydive School | Have fun. Be Happy.

Your Attitude, Dude

Skydiving produces a natural drug called adrenaline, which makes many people happy and joyful. Therefore, most skydiving dropzones are places of happiness and nobody wants Debbie Downer or Angry Adam at the DZ. Of course, we all have "those days" and we are not all extroverts. But if you're friendly, smile often, have fun, and show gratitude for every safe landing you make, you'll contribute to the positive energy of the skydiving community.

Have You Learned Anything About DZ Etiquette?

We hope you've picked up a few good habits from this post about dropzone etiquette and basic "good form" when at the DZ. Have we missed anything? Let's talk about this. Let us know in the comments.

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