Mahurin Honors College Capstone Experience/Thesis Projects


Folk Studies and Anthropology

Document Type




The culture of skydiving is made up of a community of individuals who regularly jump at a given drop zone. This culture places a high value on individual achievement, self-reliance, and adherence to routine, and it promotes a strong sense of community among its members. The relationships formed between skydivers through the common experience of skydiving go beyond the activity itself. Skydive Kentucky in Elizabethtown supports its community through several unique rites of passage as an individual gradually becomes a member of the group. This drop zone also hosts cookouts and card games for its regular members. Throughout this paper I compare the culture of skydiving to that of firewalking, which promotes many similar values, including self-reliance and community building. A major difference between the two activities can be found in the motivations of the individuals who pursue skydiving and firewalking. Firewalkers seek to overcome personal problems and limiting beliefs, and the activity's leader addresses this in a formal way. Skydivers are out to have fun, doing what they can to make each experience exciting and unique.

Keywords: Ethnography, Culture, Skydiving, Firewalking, Community

Advisor(s) or Committee Chair

Dr. Kate Hudepohl



Included in

Anthropology Commons