In Skydiving, A ‘Whuffo’ Won’t ‘Burble’ Or Try a ‘Horny Gorilla’

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by Pat Works

In Skydiving, A 'Whuffo' Won't 'Burble' Or Try The 'Horny Gorilla'

From NPR Broadcast, OCTOBER 17, 2014,

In a new installment of our series on trade lingo, skydiving instructor Michael Snively defines "whuffo," "burble" and "horny gorilla."

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

And speaking of flights of fantasy, meet our next guest.

MICHAEL SNIVELY: Full-time, I design speakers, but part-time and on weekends, I am a skydiving instructor.

BLOCK: Michael Snively of Salem, Oregon has been hearing our callouts for Trade Lingo. We've been asking for words or phrases common in your profession or hobby that would stump outsiders.

SNIVELY: I thought, I know a bunch of strange words. So I thought I'd write you guys.

BLOCK: And is skydiving a world that's rich with lingo?

SNIVELY: It is. Yeah, you don't always know what everyone's talking about your first day at the drop zone.

BLOCK: Yeah, words just go flying by and you're like, what are they talking about?

SNIVELY: They do - that and you're terrified about what's about to happen, so it's a little overwhelming.

BLOCK: I bet. Well, what are some of the - what's some of the trade lingo from the world of skydiving that you're especially interested in telling us about.

SNIVELY: One of my favorites that you hear tossed around a lot is the word burble.

BLOCK: Burble.

SNIVELY: Yes, it's the closest anybody's come to rhyming with purple.

BLOCK: (Laughter) I see. And what is a burble?

SNIVELY: So a burble is a dead pocket of air above somebody that's in free-fall. So if you think about, like, when you're driving a racecar and you can draft behind the racecar in from of you, you have that dead air. You get a very similar pocket of dead air above a skydiver. So if you happen to fly above somebody who's falling, you catch that dead air and you just kind of fall onto them.

BLOCK: That's sounds like a bad and dangerous thing.

SNIVELY: It's not so much dangerous as it is inconvenient and kind of funny on video.

BLOCK: Funny?

SNIVELY: Yeah, it makes for some good footage and laughs once you get back on the ground.

BLOCK: And what would you say once you did get back on the ground , using burble in a sentence?

SNIVELY: Yeah, so it can be a noun or a verb. So you can either burble somebody or you can fall into somebody's burble.

BLOCK: Got it, ok so that's burble.

SNIVELY: Burble, yes.

BLOCK: What else is on your trade lingo list from skydiving?

SNIVELY: We have the term, horny gorilla.

BLOCK: Horny gorilla, OK.

SNIVELY: Yes, and that is a method of actually exiting the airplane. So it's when you have a bunch of people and you all get in the open door of the airplane and you kind of tangle your legs altogether and you all hold each other's hands and you just kind of tip out of the airplane with your legs all tied into a knot.

BLOCK: And why are you doing that?

SNIVELY: It's fun. Same reason you do anything while you're skydiving I suppose.

BLOCK: But the effect will be once you're out of the airplane.

SNIVELY: The effect is kind of like a badminton birdie, so your legs are the red-ball and they weight you down and then all of your torsos are the feathery bits. So you're all just kind of sitting cross legged and around kind of staring at each other while you're fall.

BLOCK: OK, well you know, I'm not even going to ask where the name horny gorilla came from, I think we don't know that.

SNIVELY: Well, I actually kind of would like to, I don't think anybody knows where that name came from.

BLOCK: It's a mystery.

SNIVELY: It is.

BLOCK: Maybe one of our listeners will have a solution for you.

SNIVELY: That would be great.

BLOCK: You did send in one more bit of skydiving lingo that I'm really, really curious about. It's spelled W - H - U - F - F - O.

SNIVELY: Ah, whuffo, yes.

BLOCK: What's a whuffo?

SNIVELY: It's the skydiving equivalent to a Muggle in the Harry Potter world. It is someone who does not skydive. You'll hear people say whuffo you jump out them perfectly good airplanes for?

BLOCK: Ok, like, why the heck are you doing that crazy thing?

SNIVELY: Yeah, exactly. It's one of those things that every skydiver hears almost every day, is why would you ever jump out of a perfectly good airplane.

BLOCK: You know, I think I would probably being falling in the whuffo class, no question. You're talking to one right now.

SNIVELY: Well, if you're ever in Oregon, I would be more than happy to do a skydive with you.

BLOCK: I don't think I'll be taking you up on that, Michael, but thanks for the offer.

SNIVELY: No, that's OK. It's a standing offer.

BLOCK: Well Michael thanks so much for talking with us about it.

SNIVELY: No, absolutely.

BLOCK: And send us a picture from your next jump, would you?

SNIVELY: Oh, absolutely, I'd love to. Just throw it on the ALL THINGS CONSIDERED Facebook page or something?

BLOCK: Sounds great, maybe you can give us a picture of the horny gorilla.

SNIVELY: I'll see if I can dig one up.

BLOCK: And dig one up he did. You can see that photo on our Facebook page, it's NPR ATC.

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