Skydiving Hand Signals

Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Have you ever wondered what some of the skydiving hand signals are? They look like a hybrid of American Sign Language, an aircraft ramp agent directing a plane, and hand emojis. So what are they, and what do they mean?

skydiving experience at Oklahoma Skydiving Center, offer the best possible tandem skydiving experience with the most affordable skydiving rates in Oklahoma.

Skydiving hand signals are another form of communication. They are relatively simple and are used because we cannot speak to each other in freefall like we would be able to in a classroom setting. The classroom in the sky is going about 120mph, and you’re wearing a helmet! So we use hand signals. 

AFF Hand Signals 


Here is our national organization’s standard AFF and solo freefall skydiving hand signals from the Skydiver’s Information Manual

Skydiving Hand Signal

Most Commonly Used Hand Signals In AFF

There is nothing like skydiving, except for skydiving itself, and well, maybe indoor skydiving, but generally, many people have only tried it a time or two. When learning how to skydive, we’re aiming for a balanced belly-to-earth body position, and it takes time to master. 

These hand signals were created to help communicate how to adjust your body position to find that equilibrium. Student body positions vary due to factors such as height, strength, flexibility, and muscle memory from work or another sport, but there are a few common positions that need assistance. 

  • Arch: since there’s nothing in life where we purposely push our hips forward, have our chin up and extend our legs at about a 45° angle, most students are flat and sometimes even have a reverse arch.
  • Legs Out: it’s a game about balance. In tandem skydiving, instructors teach you to bend your knees at a 90° angle with the legs together. This is so they can have control as they fly the two of you in the air. But when learning to solo skydive, you need to balance where the wind is hitting your body, and to do that, your legs need to be extended at about 45°.
  • Relax and Breathe: what?! We purposely jumped from a plane, falling at 120mph toward planet earth, and you want us to relax AND breathe!? Yup. You’ll discover the key to a successful body position and progression in the sport is mind over matter. Releasing the tension and feeling the air will become more natural if you’re not fighting it!
  • Thumbs Up: yeah! This is the one we aim for as students. If the instructor throws up their thumbs that means you got it and move on with the dive flow!

Ready To Take the Leap?

Skydiving with Clouds

We’ve just given you a small sample of what you will learn in our solo skydiving program. In the program, we cover system operations such as the harness functions, canopy flight control, aircraft procedures, and how to exit the airplane. If you’re curious but not ready to commit to the solo program, we offer Training Tandems with a shorter time commitment and an instructor harnessed to you to guide you through the process. 

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