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

Category F

Category at a Glance   |   Academics   |   Dive Flows   |   Quiz



  • two tracking jumps


  • two clear-and-pulls


  • 4,000 feet

Tracking is a basic group skydiving skill that enables jumpers to gain sufficient freefall separation for a safe opening. It is such an important skill that the freefall training in this category is devoted entirely to tracking techniques.

To begin, while supervising yourself in freefall, you practice the basics of the delta position, the first step toward a flat track. The USPA Coach will evaluate and refine your tracking skills as part of the jumps in Categories G and H. Tracking evaluation is also part of the A-license check dive with the USPA Instructor.

Flying the canopy slowly and performing flat, altitude-conserving turns is an important skill that can help you out of a difficult landing approach in a tight area.

You’ll learn more about how to handle aircraft emergency exit procedures independently. Emergency review includes power line recognition, avoidance, and landing procedures. During this category, former AFF students should make a practice clear and pull from 5,500 feet, followed by a clear-and-pull jump from 3,500 feet, as required for the A license.

By now, you’re ready to learn how to pack and should begin working with a packing instructor.

The staff continues to build your understanding of aircraft procedures on jump run with emphasis on separation between groups exiting on the same pass. You also learn the specific procedures for coordinating with the pilot or jumpmaster in the event of an aircraft emergency.

Category at a Glance

Advancement Criteria

Exit and Freefall
  • cumulative three tracking sequences: track for five seconds within 30 degrees of the planned heading, turn 180 degrees, and track back for five seconds
  • two clear and pulls (already accomplished by former IAD and static-line students)
  • cumulative four 180-degree turns under canopy while flying in deep brakes
  • braked approach and landing on a canopy that allows for a safe braked landing
  • cumulative two unassisted landings within 82 feet of the planned target (jumps from previous categories count toward accuracy requirements)


  • one complete pack job with assistance
  • perform a pre-jump equipment check on another jumper fully rigged and ready to jump


Spotting and Aircraft
  • spot the aircraft, including all procedures, with minimum assistance


oral quiz

Book Stuff



Category F: Learning and Performance Objectives

  • introduction to tracking
  • two clear and pulls (former AFF students)
  • braked turns, approaches, and landings
  • extending the glide
  • power-line landing review
  • packing with assistance
  • checking others’ equipment
  • procedures following inactivity
  • winds aloft and the exit point
  • separating groups during exit


A. Exit & Freefall

  1. Initiating track
    1. First locate a point on the horizon.
    2. Smoothly extend both legs fully to initiate forward motion.
    3. Control in the delta and track positions:
      1. Dip one shoulder slightly in the direction of the turn to make heading corrections (instructor technique may differ).
      2. Make only small corrections.
    4. Slowly extend your torso by stretching your shoulders toward your ears and flatten your arch.
    5. Fully extend your arms to the side 90 degrees to your spine and level with your hips (instructor technique may vary).
  2. Refining the track
    1. Once establishing a heading in a positive forward dive, fully extend both legs with your knees locked and toes pointed.
    2. Stiffen your body slowly into a slight reverse arch, pushing down and forward slightly with your shoulders, while keeping your hands level with your hips.
    3. Continually adjust your body position to effectively meet the relative wind.
  3. Tracking practice procedure
    1. Experienced jumpers often allow only five to ten seconds to obtain adequate separation.
    2. Practice entering and refining an on-heading track for five seconds, reversing direction, and repeating.
  4. Tracking jump safety
    1. Fly exactly perpendicular to the jump run to avoid others up and down the line of flight.
    2. Always plan tracking dives with other groups in mind.
    3. Learn to control a track on heading first, then develop techniques for pitch and speed.
  5. Clear and pull (AFF students only—IAD and static-line students have already met the clear-and-pull requirement in Category C.)
    1. A clear and pull is used for emergency exits and pre-planned low-altitude jumps.
    2. Use a familiar, stable exit technique.
    3. Present your hips to the relative wind and execute normal pull procedures (without wave-off) to deploy within five seconds of exit.
    4. Expect the parachute to open in relation to the relative wind, not overhead as usual.
    5. The sequence consists of a clear and pull from two altitudes:
      1. first from 5,500 feet
      2. once successful, from 3,500 feet


B. Canopy

  1. Braked turns:
    1. Performed correctly, braked turns provide the quickest heading change with the least altitude lost.
    2. A braked turn may be the best choice when a quick heading change is needed.
      1. when suddenly encountering another jumper under canopy or someone in the landing area
      2. recognizing an obstacle
      3. too low to recover from a full-flight turn
    3. Practice braked turns.
      1. From the slowest speed at which the canopy will fly, raise one toggle slightly to initiate a heading change in the opposite direction.
      2. Try to change heading as quickly as possible without banking or stalling.
  2. Using brakes to attain the maximum glide and minimum descent:
    1. On lower-glide designs, the minimum descent may begin nearer the half-braked position.
    2. On higher-glide designs, the minimum descent may be nearer the three-quarter braked position or just prior to a full stall (reverse flight).
    3. Some canopies achieve minimum descent using the back risers instead of the toggles.
    4. Minimum sustainable descent (float):
      1. allows the jumper to remain above other jumpers on descent
      2. allows the canopy to cover a greater distance
  3. Recognizing and adjusting for minimum descent and maximum glide path
    1. Look ahead to the point on the ground that appears not to rise or sink in your field of vision.
      1. Everything before that point appears to fall.
      2. Everything beyond it appears to rise.
      3. That point is the projected landing point on the canopy’s current glide path.
    2. Pull the toggles down slightly to see if the stationary point moves farther away.
      1. If so, the glide path has flattened.
      2. The canopy will cover more distance.
    3. Repeat until the point begins to move closer, then return to the maximum glide position that you have just determined.
  4. When flying downwind in maximum glide:
    1. As the winds decrease at lower altitudes, your glide path will become steeper.
    2. The actual landing area will be closer than you initially anticipated.
  5. Increasing the glide when flying against the wind:
    1. in lighter winds, may improve distance
    2. in stronger winds, may slow the canopy too much and reduce its upwind range
  6. Braked pattern and landing approach
    1. Fly one entire landing pattern in at least half brakes, to determine the effect on glide path.
    2. Plan for a change in glide path.
      1. A lower-glide design may require a smaller pattern when flown in brakes.
      2. A higher-glide design may require a bigger pattern when flown in brakes; extend the final approach to avoid overshooting the target.
    3. Fly final approach in quarter to half brakes.
    4. Flare carefully from the braked position:
      1. Practice high to avoid a stall.
      2. To get the best flare may require a shorter, quicker stroke initiated lower to the ground.
      3. The stall may occur more abruptly.
      4. Plan for a PLF.
    5. A smaller canopy may descend too quickly in deep brakes for a safe braked landing.
  7. Accumulate two unassisted landings within 82 feet of the planned target.


C. Emergency Procedure Review

  1. Recognizing and avoiding power lines
    1. Expect power lines along roads, between buildings, in paths in the forest, and in random places.
    2. Scan every 500 feet of descent into an unfamiliar landing area and continually scan below 500 feet.
  2. Power-line landing emergency procedures (training harness): Refer to Section 5-1 of this manual.


D. Equipment

  1. Pack at least one parachute with the assistance of a knowledgeable packer.
  2. Discuss the most important points of packing:

    Note: An FAA rigger is your best resource for this discussion.

    1. lines straight and in place in the center of the completed pack job
    2. slider up
    3. tight line stows to prevent premature line deployment
  3. Perform a pre-jump equipment check on another jumper who is in full gear.
    1. “check of threes” in the front
      1. three-ring assembly (and reserve static line)
      2. three points of harness attachment for snap assembly and correct routing, adjustment, and no twists
      3. three operation handles—main activation, cutaway, reserve
    2. pin check back of system, top to bottom
      1. reserve pin at least halfway seated (and automatic activation device on)
      2. main pin fully seated
      3. ripcord cable movement or correct bridle routing
      4. if collapsible pilot chute, check the indicator window
      5. activation handle in place
    3. check personal equipment (“SHAGG”)
      Shoes—tied, no hooks
      Helmet—fit and adjustment
      Altimeter—set for zero
      Goggles—tight and clean
      Gloves—lightweight and proper size


E. Rules & Recommendations

  1. Study USPA BSRs applicable to USPA A-license holders, including Sections 2-1.B; G.2; H.2; I.1.a, 2, and 3; L.5; and M.
  2. Study USPA recommendations on training following periods of inactivity, SIM 5-2.


F. Spotting & Aircraft

Note: This section should be conducted by a jump pilot or USPA Instructor.

  1. Acting without a rated USPA instructor during routine jump operations and aircraft emergencies
    1. The person spotting the load usually serves as the jumpmaster.
    2. In larger aircraft, the jumpmaster should establish an exclusive chain of communication with the pilot.
      1. A communication assistant should be able to communicate directly with the pilot and the jumpmaster simultaneously.
      2. Other jumpers should not get involved in communication among the pilot, communications assistant, and the jumpmaster.
  2. Review of low-altitude exit procedures
    1. The jumpmaster must determine if jumpers are over a safe landing area and communicate this information to the pilot.
    2. Establish firm altitudes at which certain aircraft emergency decisions would be made (DZ policy):
      1. altitude below which all jumpers will land with the aircraft
      2. altitude below which all jumpers will jump using their reserves
      3. altitude below which all jumpers will jump and immediately use their main parachutes
    3. Jumpers must maintain correct weight distribution in the aircraft, especially during emergency exit procedures.
  3. The effect of the winds aloft on the exit point
    1. Subtract the speed of the headwind on jump run (if flown into the wind) from the true airspeed of the aircraft to determine the ground speed.
    2. Jumpers first get thrown forward on exit (approximately 0.2 miles in calm winds, less with headwind) from residual aircraft speed and then fall straight down or blow toward the target.
    3. The winds aloft will cause freefalling jumpers to drift according to the wind’s strength and direction.
    4. Winds generally diminish at lower altitudes.
    5. Average the speed and the direction of the winds from exit altitude to 3,000 feet AGL to estimate freefall drift. See the example in Table 4-F.1 for a sea-level drop zone:
      1. If flying jump run upwind, use the average heading of 270 degrees.
      2. Aircraft forward throw is approximately 1/8-1/4 mile upwind in the light-to-moderate headwind.
      3. Jumpers fall for one minute, drifting at 1/4 mile per minute for 1/4 mile of drift downwind.
      4. Since the forward throw and the freefall drift approximately cancel each other, the ideal exit point is almost straight over the ideal opening point in this example.

  4. Group separation on jump run (SIM 5-7).
  5. Perform all duties on jump run with minimum assistance, including—
    1. operating the door (if the pilot allows)
    2. monitoring progress during jump run
    3. directing the pilot to the correct spot
    4. choosing the correct exit point


CAT F dive flows


play video Dive Plan #1: Tracking

  • Spot with minimal assistance.
  • Choice of exit position.
  • Track for five seconds, turn 180 degrees, return.
  • Altitude check.
  • Repeat until 6,000 feet.
  • Wave off and pull by 4,000 feet.

Dive Plan #2: Clear and Pull from 5,500 feet (former AFF students only)

  • Spot with minimal assistance.
  • Poised exit.
  • Initiate deployment within five seconds.

Dive Plan #3: Clear and Pull from 3,500 feet (former AFF students only)

  • Spot with minimal assistance.
  • Poised exit.
  • Initiate deployment within five seconds.


  • Pack with assistance

play video Discovery of stall point.

Dive Plan #1: Braked Turns

  • Check altitude, position, and traffic.
  • Pull toggles smoothly and evenly to deep brakes.
  • Perform a 180-degree-braked turn then return to full flight.
  • Check altitude, position and traffic.
  • Pull toggles smoothly and evenly to deep brakes.
  • Perform a 180-degree-braked turn in the other direction then return to full flight.
  • Check altitude, position and traffic.
  • Repeat to no lower than 2,000 feet.
  • The coach measures the student’s landing distance from the planned targe

Dive Plan #2: Braked Maneuvers and Landing (From 5,000 feet)

  • Check altitude, position, and traffic.
  • Pull toggles smoothly and evenly to half-brakes hold for 3 seconds and finish the flare at a normal speed.
  • Return to full flight for 10 seconds.
  • check altitude, position, and traffic.
  • Pull toggles smoothly and evenly to a half-brake position hold for 3 seconds and finish the flare at a quicker than normal speed.
  • Return to full flight for 10 seconds.
  • check altitude, position, and traffic.
  • Pull toggles smoothly and evenly to a half-brake position while facing into the wind and observe glide path change.
  • Return to full flight.
  • check altitude, position, and traffic.
  • Turn 180 degrees.
  • Pull toggles smoothly and evenly to a half-brake position while going with the wind and observe glide path change.
  • Return to full flight.
  • check altitude, position, and traffic.
  • Fly landing pattern in half-brake position, if winds permit.
  • Flare from the braked position, if winds and canopy permit.
  • The coach measures the student's landing distance from the planned target.
  • Discovery of flattest glide; lowest descent.
  • Practice flaring from deep brakes.
  • Identify all the power lines in the area during descent.
  • Fly the pattern in brakes.
  • Landing flare from brakes (with suitable canopy).