United States Parachute Association > Experienced Skydivers > SIM > Skydive School > CAT B

Category B

Category at a Glance   |   Academics   |   Dive Flows   |   Quiz



  • one jump


  • three jumps


  • two jumps


  • AFF: 4,500 feet
  • IAD and static line: 3,500 feet
  • Tandem: 5,500 feet

In Category B, you learn to become more comfortable in the skydiving environment.
• AFF and tandem students perform leg awareness exercises to improve control and also may perform assisted turns (if trained) in preparation for heading maintenance in Category C and controlled turns in Category D.
• Static-line and IAD students get introduced to the self-deployment device and practice mock deployments after exit.
• Tandem students take a more active role in the exit, leading the count and presenting their bodies correctly to the wind. Each tandem student should hold a correct body position until establishing stability and then maintain it throughout the freefall.

Training in this category reviews and expands your understanding of the canopy landing pattern and the airport environment, with attention to avoiding aircraft on or approaching the runways. You help with pre-flight planning and the use of the written flight plan, including opening point, the projected wind line, and the landing pattern. Also, you learn to use the runway as a reference for direction and distance when observing the drop zone from the aircraft or under canopy.

For AFF, IAD, and static-line students, emergency review emphasizes topics from the first-jump course on parachute malfunctions. Tandem students will also learn and practice parachute malfunction procedures before advancing from this category to solo freefall.

In Category B, you become more responsible for your equipment, particularly while moving around and inside the aircraft. Study topics introduce USPA Basic Safety Requirements for student jumps.

To advance, AFF and tandem students should monitor altitude and deploy at the correct altitude without prompting from the instructor. IAD and static-line students must complete three successive, stable practice deployments.

Instructor: Transition Protocol

Crossover students to harness hold who have completed Category A in the tandem program must complete the harness-hold first-jump course before making AFF jumps in Category B.

Crossover students to AFF who have completed Category A in the IAD or static-line program will need additional training on the climbout, set-up, and count; AFF freefall communications; use of the altimeter in freefall; and use of the main parachute deployment device, including deployment device malfunctions and premature container opening.

Crossover students to tandem who have completed Category A in the solo jumping programs will need to complete any additional required paperwork and understand their responsibility to check the tandem system hook-ups before exit, as well as any special landing procedures.

Crossover students to IAD or static line who have completed Category A in another solo training method will need training in their main deployment system and its specific emergency procedures.

Category A students crossing over to IAD or static line from the tandem program will need to complete the solo first-jump course before making IAD or static-line jumps in Category B.


Category at a Glance

Advancement Criteria

Exit and Freefall

AFF and Tandem Students

  • stability within ten seconds of exiting the aircraft
  • maintain correct body position for stability throughout, including leg awareness and control
  • assisted deployment within 500 feet of the assigned altitude
  • in addition, tandem students complete the solo first-jump course

IAD and Static-Line Students

  • three successive exits with stable practice deployments within five seconds of exit
  • understanding and planning descent strategy from opening to pattern entry and pattern principles
  • steering including clearing airspace (looking before turning) without prompting (self-evaluated)
  • assisted flare for a safe landing within 30 degrees of heading into the wind


  • understanding routine canopy problems and the correct responses


oral quiz

Book Stuff

*Note: For reasons of safety, AFF, static line, or IAD students who do not complete the flaring and landing advancement criteria in Category B should be recommended for tandem or other comprehensive canopy training. If all other Category B advancement criteria have been met, the student may satisfy Category B canopy skills in another discipline and then advance to Category C in the preferred discipline.



Category B: Learning and Performance Objectives

  • relaxing in the skydiving environment
  • heading awareness
  • parachute deployment
  • more on the landing pattern
  • written flight plan
  • airport orientation
  • protecting handles
  • equipment emergency review


A. Exit & Freefall

  1. Student-led exit (all students)
    1. Review the exit set-up from Category A.
    2. IAD and static-line students perform the climbout with little or no assistance from the instructor and exit promptly on the “Go!” command.
    3. Tandem students climb into position after the instructor’s OK, check with the instructor once in position, and initiate the exit count.
  2. Altitude awareness to recognize and act at the assigned pull altitude is the most important task in freefall.
  3. “Altitude, arch, legs, relax:” Repeat to establish and maintain awareness, stability, and control.
    1. Know your altitude (static line students know their exit altitude and count to keep track of time after release from the aircraft).
    2. Check your arch (hips forward a little).
    3. Check your legs (most beginners need to extend their legs a little and point their toes).
    4. Relax
      1. Breathe consciously to release tension.
      2. Use this technique just before and after releasing from the aircraft.
  4. Deployment
    1. AFF and tandem students
      1. Practice deployment in freefall until smooth and comfortable with locating the deployment handle.
      2. Wave-off to signal deployment.
      3. Pull at the correct altitude without prompting from the instructor.
    2. IAD and static-line students practice deployment within five seconds of exit (three successful jumps in a row required before solo freefall).
  5. Leg awareness
    1. AFF and tandem students practice leg awareness by extending legs while arms remain in a neutral position.
      1. Extending the legs from the neutral position adds more drag in the back, lifting your lower body.
      2. The off-level attitude causes you to slide forward on the deflected air (less noticeable in tandem droguefall).
      3. Hold the position for three seconds and return to neutral to cancel the effect.
      4. Finish all maneuvers 1,000 feet above wave-off altitude or 6,000 feet, whichever comes first.
    2. IAD and static-line students increase leg awareness during the exit set-up and after release from the plane.
  6. Maintaining a heading
    1. First, relax into a comfortable, relaxed, neutral body position.
    2. Find a point ahead on the horizon as a heading reference.
    3. If turns are trained and performed (AFF and tandem):

      Note: Although not required, team turns—like relaxation—may aid a student in preventing turns on later jumps.

      1. The student turns 90-degrees in one direction.
      2. The student turns back to the original heading.
      3. Check the altitude.
      4. Repeat in the opposite direction if time permits.
      5. If the student does not initiate the turn, the instructor(s) may turn the student.


B. Canopy

  1. Clearing airspace: both before and during any turn, look in the direction of the turn.
  2. Using a DZ photo or taking a walk in the field, you’ll preview with an instructor the expected opening point and prepare a written flight plan together.
  3. Review the descent strategy:
    1. Determine position and altitude upon opening.
    2. Locate the target and establish a line to the pre-planned 1,000-foot pattern entry point.
    3. Divide the line logically according to the remaining altitude (halfway down, halfway back); for example, if open at 4,000 feet—
      1. Divide the line in half and remain over the first half of the line until 2,000 feet.
      2. Fly over the remaining half of the line until reaching the pre-planned pattern entry point at 1,000 feet.
  4. Fly to the instructor-assigned pattern entry at 1,000 feet, as identified on the written flight plan.
  5. Fly the pre-planned pattern using downwind, base, and final approach legs, with specific points to overfly at specified altitudes.
  6. Fly a straight-in final approach without S-turns (S-turns present a hazard to other traffic).
  7. Flare at ten feet, based on Category A experience.

    Note: Flaring is covered in more detail in Categories C and F.

  8. Review the PLF and its value to protect against a hard landing.


C. Emergency Procedure Review

Note: After completing the solo first-jump course, tandem students should review this section each day before making any jump in Category C. This section also serves as a review outline for any jumper undergoing general review following a period of inactivity.

  1. Deploy at the correct altitude, regardless of stability.
  2. Review common problems at the training harness (tandem students may review while under canopy):
    1. correct response to line twist:
      1. Spread the risers and kick to untwist, but release the brakes only after clearing the twist.
      2. If spinning, twist the risers to untwist the lines and stabilize canopy, then kick to untwist the risers.
      3. By 2,500 feet, be sure line twist can be corrected at a safe altitude, or initiate emergency procedures.
    2. slider up:
      1. Bring both toggles to the bottom of the stroke to slow the canopy and pump at the bottom of the control range.
      2. Alternatively, pump the back risers.
      3. The slider needs to be at least halfway down for landing.
      4. Repeat remedial procedures twice or until reaching the decide-and-act altitude of 2,500 feet.
    3. end-cell closure:
      1. Pull both toggles to the bottom of the stroke and hold them until the end cells open, then release them smoothly.
      2. Alternatively, hold down both back risers.
      3. If the end cells can’t be cleared, evaluate controllability and flare before reaching the decide-and-act altitude of 2,500 feet.
    4. If the canopy has opened normally but turns on its own, be sure both brakes are released.
    5. Evaluate controllability and flare before reaching the decide-and-act altitude of 2,500 feet for:
      1. Broken steering line: Use back risers.
      2. Broken suspension line(s)
      3. Pilot chute entangles with canopy or lines.
      4. Damage: Canopy rips or tears.
  3. Review deployment problems for manual activation (introduction for IAD and static-line students).
  4. Make only two attempts to correct the problem before initiating reserve procedures.
  5. lost deployment handle:
    1. Hip or chest handle location: Follow harness webbing for two seconds only.
    2. Bottom of container location: Sweep bottom of container, then side of container to corner for two seconds only.
  6. hard pull:
    1. Hip or chest handle location: Try again with two hands.
    2. Bottom of container: Place elbow against container for leverage.
  7. pilot chute hesitation:
    1. Twist while looking over the right shoulder to modify the airflow.
    2. Repeat over the left shoulder.
  • Practice for deployment handle problems and pilot chute hesitation.
  • Review premature container opening in freefall for hand deployment:
    1. Attempt to locate and deploy the pilot chute first.
    2. If the pilot chute can’t be located after two tries or if deploying the pilot chute results in a partial malfunction, cut away and deploy the reserve.
  • Review student-in-tow procedures for static-line: Signal to the instructor readiness to deploy the reserve once the static line is cut.
  • Practice for recognizing and responding to total and partial malfunctions (from Category A procedures).
  • Review minimum cutaway altitude and reserve deployment without cutaway if necessary.
    1. Decide to cut away by 2,500 feet and act.
    2. If below 1,000 feet without a functioning canopy, deploy the reserve (will result in a cutaway on an SOS system).
    3. If in a canopy entanglement with another jumper below 1,000 feet and it appears the canopies cannot be separated in time for a safe landing, deploy the reserve (will result in a cutaway with the SOS system, so may not be an option).
    4. Both parachutes deployed:
      1. Biplane—do not cut away, steer the front canopy gently using toggles or leave the brakes
        stowed and steer by pulling on the rear risers; leave brakes stowed on the back canopy; PLF.
    5. Side-by-side (two alternatives)
      1. side-by-side alternative one
        1. If the two canopies are not tangled, cut away and fly the reserve to a safe landing.
      2. side-by-side alternative two
        1. Steer the dominant (larger) canopy gently using toggles or leave the brakes stowed and steer by pulling on the rear risers.
        2. Leave the brakes stowed on the other canopy.
        3. Make a parachute landing fall on landing.
    6. Downplane—cut away the main canopy.
    7. Premature deployment in aircraft:
      1. Attempt to contain the open parachute and inform the instructor.
      2. If your parachute goes out the door, follow it immediately, before being extracted.


D. Equipment

  1. Parachute deployment with opportunities for malfunctions explained (actual deployment on the ground recommended)—
    1. lost or unrecoverable deployment handle
    2. impossible deployment handle extraction
    3. pack closure
    4. pilot chute hesitation
    5. pilot chute in tow
    6. premature deployment (hand deploy)
    7. pilot chute entanglement
    8. horseshoe
    9. bag lock
    10. streamer
    11. line-over
    12. fabric or line failure sufficient to interfere with control and flare
    13. slider hang-up
    14. control-line entanglement
  2. Review parachute retrieval after landing.


E. Rules & Recommendations

  1. Review the USPA Basic Safety Requirements (BSRs) on supervision and progression requirements for students.
  2. Review the BSRs on wind limits for students (waiverable by a USPA Safety & Training Advisor).
  3. Review the BSRs on minimum required deployment altitudes for students and USPA A license holders.
  4. Review the BSRs on drop zone requirements for students (waiverable by an S&TA) and what is considered a landing hazard.


F. Spotting & Aircraft

  1. Minimum, careful movement in the aircraft helps prevent premature activation.
  2. Runway lengths and headings (use of a compass)
    1. The runway heading provides a reference for direction (north, south, east, and west).
    2. The runway length provides a reference for judging distance from the air (in tenths of a mile for GPS and Loran).
  3. Winds are described by their direction of origin, said as a compass heading (for example, “The winds are two-seventy,” means the winds are blowing from the west).
  4. Avoid runways and approaches, including getting clear of a runway after landing on or near one.
  5. Discuss local aircraft traffic approach altitudes and landing patterns and their relationship to canopy approach and landing patterns. (See the illustration below, and also refer to the illustration in FAA Advisory Circular 90-66, Appendix 3, in SIM Section 9-2.)
  6. Crossing the runway
    1. Know the airport and drop zone rules about crossing a runway.
    2. If allowed, look both ways and minimize the time spent on the runway.


CAT B dive flows


play video AFF

  • Exit in a relaxed arch.
  • Instructors release arm grips.
  • Circle of Awareness.
  • Practice deployments until comfortable.
  • Altitude, arch, legs, relax.
  • Extend legs for three seconds and hold.
  • Altitude, arch, legs, relax.
  • Repeat as altitude permits.
  • Team turns (if trained).
  • Begin wave off at 5,500 feet.
  • Pull by 4,500 feet.


  • Check deployment device prior to climbout.
  • Climb out.
  • Exit on command with legs extended.
  • Practice deployment with count to track time.
  • Check canopy.


  • Initiate count after instructor's OK.
  • Exit in a relaxed arch.
  • Altitude, arch, legs, relax.
  • Practice deployment until smooth and comfortable.
  • Altitude, arch, legs, relax.
  • Extend legs and hold for three seconds.
  • Altitude, arch, legs, relax.
  • Repeat as altitude permits or turns (if trained).
  • Begin wave-off by 6,000 feet.
  • Pull by 5,500 feet.
  • play video Release brakes and correct routine problems.
  • Look left, turn left.
  • Look right, turn right.
  • Flare.
  • Check altitude, position, and traffic.
  • Find landing area and pattern entry point.
  • Divide flight path by thousands of feet.
  • Instructor explains minor canopy problems and remedies (tandem only).
  • Look at runway and determine compass heading.
  • Steer over correct portion of flight path until 1,000 feet.
  • Look for obstacles around landing area.
  • Follow pre-assigned pattern over landing area or alternate.
  • Flare to land and PLF if necessary.
Instructor Notes

The instructor must consider carefully before advancing students more quickly than the recommended progression during the rudimentary skills training in Categories A-C. Repetition of fewer skills during the initial categories improves success in later categories and leads to higher overall satisfaction for the student.