Published: July 5, 2016
There are a bunch of obscure skydiving traditions that most first-time tandem skydivers are blissfully unaware of when they breeze through the dropzone for their jump. This sport has so many charming little idiosyncrasies that evade the notice of the general public. At Chattanooga Skydiving Company, we think that's a pity! Everybody should know about our odd little skydiving rituals, so we're going to do the world a favor and write a few of 'em down for you.
One of the first things you'll notice is that a lot of skydiving traditions involve beer. Wine drinker? Whiskey aficionado? That's fine, but skydiving's idiosyncratic observances tend to revolve around the six-pack.
For instance: the "beer line." If you're on a dropzone and hear the crowd of skydivers yell out the word "beer" in raucous unison as someone is landing, you can be assured that you're witnessing the beer line in action.
Most dropzones have a specific line that separates the safe landing area from the unsafe area or areas around it. Sport jumpers know exactly where this line is located and are quite capable of avoiding it if they keep awareness and control their speed and direction. If a jumper accidentally crosses that line--in some places, even by an inch--then they owe a beer to everyone on the dropzone at the end of the jumping day.
Oh: And cheap beer is not acceptable for this purpose.
Beer-fining isn't just a way to encourage landing safety. It's a way to celebrate the infinite variety of stuff that you can do on a skydive.
That may be a little obscure to a first-time tandem skydiver, but never fear. Here's how that works: When you do a tandem skydive, you exit the plane and freefall in a belly-to-earth configuration. Whee! Belly-to-earth, however, is nowhere close to the only way to make a skydive.
For example, you can choose to stay belly-to-earth, but exit the plane in a group and hold on to each other's suits as you fall. You can freefall in a sitting position, standing up, upside down, or in a group combination of all of the above. You can put on a wingsuit and glide along more horizontally--by yourself, or with literally a hundred friends. You can get out of the plane and open your parachute immediately, executing canopy maneuvers the whole way down. There are so many ways to do it, you can have thousands of jumps and still experience a new skydive every time.
To celebrate the epic variety available to us in skydiving, we use--you guessed it--beer. The tradition is to buy beer whenever you do something for the first time. (Mostly, if we're being honest, this long-honored tradition is designed to allow you to tell a bunch of people what cool new thing you just did.)
If you're lucky enough to be at the dropzone when someone does their 100th skydive, you're in for a treat--it's traditional for the jumper to take a pie to the face when they cross that hallowed landmark. (People are real sneaky about it, too. This tradition sits at a high value of awesomeness.)
Skydiving is a highly social sport, and it's been around for long enough to collect plenty of fun observances. From "boogies" to bonfires to sport-wide secret handshakes, we've got a lot up our sleeves. The only way to learn 'em all is to join us!
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