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

Category G

Category at a Glance   |   Academics   |   Dive Flows   |   Quiz



  • four jumps


  • 3,500 feet

Freefall skills in Category G address group skydiving maneuvers. They are outlined here for the discipline of formation skydiving (flat, or belly flying) but can be performed in other orientations with a USPA Coach knowledgeable in those techniques. The same performance and advancement criteria for maneuvering, docking, breakoff, and gaining separation for a safe opening apply, however.

In Category G, you’ll review more in depth the procedures for avoiding and responding to canopy collisions, always more of a risk in group jumping. By now, you should be looking for traffic and steering with rear risers before releasing your brakes.

After opening, you’ll explore the performance envelope of the ram-air canopy to prevent surprises near the ground. Practice includes maximum-performance turns, reverse turns, and keeping the wing in balance during performance maneuvers to avoid a line twist. You’ll learn to feel the turn.

You’ll take another look at avoiding tree landings and what to do in case one is inevitable.

By now, you should be packing with minimal assistance, but USPA recommends supervision until your A license. Along with practicing packing, you’ll learn how to inspect the equipment for wear and how to prevent it. Before advancing, you should understand the responsibilities of the FAA rigger, who maintains most items.

All skydivers need to respect the power of various kinds of weather, which begins with understanding basic weather patterns and reading the danger signals. A pilot or instructor advises you on practical ways to predict the kind of weather that could compromise your safety.


Category at a Glance

Advancement Criteria

Exit and Freefall
  • two redocks from ten feet without assistance
  • two redocks requiring an adjustment in fall rate
  • break off at the planned altitude without prompting
  • track 50 feet within ten degrees of the planned heading
  • four maximum-performance reverse canopy turns
  • two unassisted landings within 65 feet of the target (jumps from previous categories count toward accuracy requirements)


  • one complete pack job without assistance


Spotting and Aircraft
  • spot the aircraft, including all procedures, without assistance


oral quiz

Book Stuff

  • read and discuss USPA recommendations for tree landings (SIM Section5-1.F)
  • read and discuss USPA recommendations to experienced jumpers for automatic activation devices and reserve static lines (SIM Sections 5-3.F and G.)
  • read and discuss USPA recommendations for canopy collisions (SIM Section 5-1.H)
  • read and discuss USPA recommendations regarding weather (SIM Section 5-5)
  • read and discuss USPA recommendations on group freefall skydiving, SIM Section 6-1
  • read and discuss additional USPA recommendations on breakoffs for freeflying groups in SIM Section 6-2.E.5
  • read and discuss FAR 65.125 through .133 (performance standards for parachute rigger privileges, record keeping, and seal requirements)
  • read and discuss FAA regulations for packing main and reserve parachutes (FAR 105.43.a and .b)
  • read and discuss FAA regulations for maintaining automatic activation devices (FAR 105.43.c)



Category G: Learning and Performance Objectives

  • group exits
  • floater position
  • forward and backward movement
  • adjusting fall rate
  • start and stop
  • docking
  • maximum-performance canopy turns
  • collision avoidance and response review
  • tree landing review
  • equipment maintenance inspection
  • weather for skydivers


A. Exit & Freefall

  1. Group exits
    1. Practice for an efficient climbout and launch.
      1. Each jumper in a group has an assigned exit position and should know that position before climbout.
      2. The exit position should include specific, exact foot and hand placement for the best launch position and presentation of hips and limbs into the relative wind.
      3. The jumpers count together with body movement, where possible, for a simultaneous or near-simultaneous launch.
    2. Exit into a neutral body position and hold aircraft heading.
    3. Relax and confirm stability prior to turning toward your coach.
    4. exit grips:
      1. If taken, grips should allow all jumpers to leave in a natural flying position.
      2. Main lift web and chest strap grips are counterproductive for most belly-to-earth group exits.
  2. Forward and backward movement (belly to earth)
    1. Use legs only for forward movement and steering.
      1. Extending both legs tilts the jumper head-low and begins a slide in that direction.
      2. Extending one leg more than the other causes a turn in the opposite direction.
        1. Extending the right leg causes a left turn.
        2. Extending the left leg causes a right turn.
    2. Maintain both arms in neutral during forward movement and docking.
    3. Extend both arms and push down for backward movement.
    4. Extending the arms slightly to take a grip will counter forward movement but cause backsliding if initiated too soon or for too long.
  3. Adjusting fall rate (belly to earth)
    1. Increase vertical freefall speed by streamlining.
      1. hips forward
      2. shoulders back
      3. relax abdominal muscles
    2. Slow freefall speed by creating maximum turbulence.
      1. cupping the shoulders around the sternum
      2. rounding the spine (cupping the abdomen)
      3. extending arms or legs to counterbalance and maintain a level attitude
    3. When recovering altitude from below the level of a formation:
      1. Turn 90 degrees relative to the formation to keep it in view.
      2. To avoid a collision, remain clear of the area immediately below and above any group.
    4. Recognize the visual cues for level approach (on exit, regardless of the horizon):
      1. backpack in sight—come down
      2. front of the leg straps in sight—come up
    5. Maintain altitude awareness.
  4. Docking
    1. Dock using a level approach.
    2. Once docked, arch across the shoulders to maintain the fall rate (elbows up) and stay level with your partner or the formation.
    3. Extend both legs to counter any tension created in the formation when holding grips.
    4. Maintain altitude awareness.
  5. Break-off
    1. Check altitude every four or five seconds and after each maneuver.
    2. Break off without prompting.
    3. Plan the break-off altitude to allow enough time to track 50 feet.
    4. The most positive way to signal break-off is to turn and track.
      1. As a safety back-up in Categories G and H—
        1. If the coach waves his or her arms, immediately turn and track to the planned deployment altitude.
        2. If the coach deploys, deploy immediately without tracking.
        3. Deploy at planned altitude whether or not you have turned or tracked.
        4. Never rely on the USPA Coach for breakoff or deployment cues.
      2. You are always responsible to break off and open at the planned altitude on jumps with the USPA Coach and with others after you get your license.
    5. When tracking, establish and maintain the correct heading radially from the formation.
    6. For beginners, tracking moderately in a straight line in the right direction is more effective than going fast in a curve or in the wrong direction. Break off high enough to gain separation.
  6. For additional requirements for break-offs from freeflying jumps, see SIM 6-2.
  7. To avoid hard openings, slow to minimum freefall velocity before deploying.


B. Canopy

  1. Performance turn entry and exit with balance
    1. Enter a turn only as quickly as the canopy can maintain balance (center of lift over the center of load) during the turn.
    2. Surging, lurching, or line twist indicate a turn entered too quickly.
    3. A canopy is more susceptible to collapse from turbulence during entry and exit from a turn.
    4. The canopy dives sharply after a maximum-performance turn.
  2. Reverse turns
    1. You must know the maximum safe rate of turn entry for each canopy you jump.
    2. Practicing reverse turns helps you determine the maximum safe toggle turn rate before inducing a line twist.
    3. Make a smooth but deep turn at least 90-degrees to the right, return to level flight for a split second, then reverse toggle positions smoothly but quickly for a 180-degree turn to the left (four sets recommended to complete Category G).
    4. Line twist can occur if the toggle is pulled down too quickly when starting a turn, or raised too quickly to stop a turn.
    5. The goal of this exercise is to learn the limits of the toggle input for your canopy, not to actually induce a line twist.
    6. A line twist at landing pattern altitudes may be unrecoverable in time for a safe landing, particularly with a higher wing loading.
    7. In case you induce a line twist, you should complete all maximum-performance turns above the 2,500-foot decide-and-act altitude for a cutaway.
  3. The potential for collision with other jumpers increases when making performance maneuvers in traffic or near the ground (review).
    1. Other jumpers may be focused more on the target than on traffic.
    2. The lower jumper has the right of way.
    3. It takes only one jumper to avoid a collision.
    4. Jumping a faster canopy requires more attention to traffic.
  4. Accumulate two unassisted landings within 65 feet of a planned target (five total required for A license).


C. Emergency Procedure Review

Note: A USPA Instructor should teach this section. A canopy formation specialist is also a good source.

  1. Canopy collision avoidance (review)
    1. Know where other nearby jumpers are during opening and steer with the back risers to avoid them.
    2. If a head-on collision is pending, both jumpers should turn right.
  2. Collision response: Study the USPA recommended procedures in SIM 5-1.
  3. Tree landing avoidance
    1. Spot clear of large areas of trees or other obstacles, and open high enough to clear them in the event of a bad spot.
    2. Fly in maximum glide to reach a clear area.
  4. Tree landing procedure review (training harness): Refer to skydiving emergency procedures in SIM 5-1.


D. Equipment

Note: An FAA rigger should conduct this session:

  1. Detailed identification and inspection of high-wear items requiring rigger maintenance
    1. pilot chute and deployment handle
      1. Look for broken stitching around the apex and the seam where the pilot chute canopy fabric and mesh meet.
      2. Check for security at the bridle attachment point.
      3. The fabric and mesh should be in good condition; both eventually wear out.
    2. bridle velcro
      1. velcro anywhere degrades with use and needs to be replaced every 100-250 uses.
      2. Bridle velcro is particularly important, because if it comes loose, it can cause a premature deployment.
      3. velcro should be clean, dry, and free of debris.
    3. deployment bag
      1. Look for distortion in the grommets, especially at the bridle, and fabric damage around their edges.
      2. Check the loops that hold the line stow bands.
      3. If velcro is used, replace it as necessary.
    4. closing pin
      1. Check that the loop holding the closing pin to the bridle is secure and not being cut by the eye of the pin.
      2. Check for nicks or corrosion on the pin and replace it if any appear.
    5. pilot chute attachment
      1. Look for wear where the bridle attaches to the canopy.
      2. Look for broken stitching on the canopy itself where it is reinforced for the bridle attachment loop or ring.
    6. likely areas of damage on the top center skin, end cells, and stabilizers
      1. Check for small holes on the top skin from where the bridle attachment stop ring has caught fabric in the bag’s top grommet (avoidable with good packing technique).
      2. Look for wear on the top skin and end cells caused by contact with sharp objects or stickers.
      3. Look for wear in and around the reinforcements in the stabilizers that contain the slider stops.
      4. Look for broken or missing stitching along the seams.
    7. slider
      1. Inspect for distortion in the slider grommets and wear around their inside edges.
      2. Sliders are important, high stress components and should be maintained to the highest standard.
    8. lines
      1. Look for wear anywhere along the lines, but especially where the slider grommets contact metal connector links.
      2. Line damage at the links calls for line replacement, but the rigger can also advise the jumper about link choices, protection and habits that minimize damage.
      3. Lines sometimes shrink unevenly over time.
      4. All lines eventually require replacement; refer to the manufacturer’s recommendations.
    9. slider bumpers (metal connector links)
      1. Slider bumpers protect the slider grommets and lines from damage by taking it themselves; most require periodic replacement.
      2. Slider bumpers need to be tight on the link or secured to prevent them from sliding up the lines and stopping the slider.
    10. brake system
      1. When velcro is used, placing the toggles on the risers immediately after landing prevents velcro damage and tangles.
      2. velcro needs to be replaced when worn.
      3. velcro and general use wears the lower brake lines, which a rigger can easily replace.
      4. Examine the brake lock eye for damage and wear.
      5. Look at the attachment point for the keeper ring, including the attachment ring stitching on the opposite surface of the riser.
      6. Inspect tuck-tab toggle keepers for security.
    11. riser release system

      Note: You will learn three-ring disassembly and maintenance in Category H.

      1. Look for wear in the loops holding the rings and the white retaining loop, especially if you drag your rig when stowing the lines (not advised).
      2. Be sure that any service bulletins on risers for that system have been accomplished.
      3. Check the fittings on both ends of the cable housings for security.
      4. Look for kinks in the release cable where it contacts the white retaining loop, which may indicate a problem with hard openings or the design and construction of the three-ring assembly.
      5. Check the front and back of the riser webbing for fraying or strains around the edges of the grommets.
      6. Look for broken or loose tackings on the cable housings.
      7. Check riser inserts (for cutaway cable ends) if installed.
    12. riser covers
      1. Replace any retaining velcro when it loses tackiness.
      2. Replace distorted tuck flaps when they become ineffective (happens with use).
    13. main container closing grommets
      1. Inspect for distortion and fabric damage around the edges.
      2. Feel for severe distortion or breakage of the plastic stiffener inside the fabric where the grommet is set.
    14. main and reserve pin covers
      1. Replace velcro when it fails to stay firmly attached.
      2. Replace plastic stiffeners when distortion from use renders them ineffective.
  2. Store the parachute in a cool, dry, dark place.
    1. Heat weakens AAD batteries; cars are too hot for safe prolonged storage in the summer.
    2. The ultraviolet rays of the sun degrade nylon.
    3. moisture
      1. corrodes hardware (very dangerous, since rust degrades nylon)
      2. promotes mildew (undesirable but harmless to nylon)
    4. Many chemicals and acids damage parachute materials.
    5. Heat may weaken elastic stow bands.
  3. Premature deployments near the door
    1. Handles
      1. Check your handles before moving to an open door.
      2. Be cognizant of your handles when you are near an open door and during climb out
    2. Remain clear of the area directly above and below another jumper, in case his or her parachute activates prematurely from the AAD or other unplanned event.
  4. Pack one main parachute without assistance.


E. Rules & Recommendations

Note: An FAA rigger should teach this section.

  1. It requires at least an FAA senior rigger to maintain and repair the parachute system (FAR 65.125 through .133, Section 9-1 of this manual).
  2. AADs, if installed must be maintained according to the manufacturer’s instructions (FAR 105.43.c, Section 9-1 of this manual).


F. Spotting & Aircraft

Note: A pilot or instructor should teach this section.

  1. Refer to the information on weather in Section 5-5 of this manual and discuss:
    1. weather conditions hazardous to skydivers
    2. practical methods to observe weather and obtain forecasts
  2. Select the spot and guide the pilot to the correct position without assistance in routine weather conditions.


CAT G dive flows


play video Dive Plan #1: Forward Movement to Dock

  • Coach observes spot.
  • Front floater exit position (outside strut) until successful.
  • Initiate count after coach OK.
  • Face the direction of flight until stable (two to three seconds).
  • Coach moves into position and docks.
  • Check altitude and nod.
  • Coach backs up five feet and adjusts levels as necessary.
  • Move forward and take grips.
  • Altitude check every five seconds or after each maneuver, whichever comes first.
  • Coach backs up ten feet; move forward and take grips.
  • Altitude check every five seconds or after each maneuver, whichever comes first.
  • Repeat until breakoff.
  • Initiate break-off at 5,500 feet and turn to track.
  • Coach remains in place and evaluates track.
  • Wave off and pull by 3,500 feet.

play video Dive Plan #2: Down and Up

  • Coach observes spot.
  • Rear floater exit position (inside strut) until successful.
  • Initiate count after coach OK.
  • Face direction of flight until stable.
  • Turn to face coach.
  • Coach moves into position and docks.
  • Check altitude and nod.
  • Coach backs up five feet and increases fall rate.
  • Remain in position and match coach’s fall rate.
  • Altitude check every five seconds or after each maneuver, whichever comes first.
  • Coach slows fall rate.
  • Remain in position and match coach.
  • Repeat until response is quick and accurate.
  • Break off at 5,500 feet.
  • Coach remains in place and evaluates track.
  • Wave off and pull by 3,500 feet.

play video Dive Plan #3: Docking with Problems

  • Coach observes spot.
  • Review either floater position.
  • Initiate count after coach OK.
  • Face direction of flight until stable.
  • Turn to face coach.
  • Coach moves into position and docks.
  • Check altitude and nod.
  • Coach backs up ten feet and changes fall rate.
  • Match coach’s fall rate to level and dock.
  • Altitude check every five seconds or after each maneuver, whichever comes first.
  • Repeat until response is quick and accurate.
  • Break off at 5,500 feet.
  • Coach remains in place and evaluates track.
  • Wave off and pull by 3,500 feet.
  • Owner inspection-of-equipment briefing by FAA rigger
  • Pack without assistance
  • play video Check altitude, position, and traffic.
  • Make a sharp, balanced 90-degree turn.
  • Reverse the toggle position aggressively and make a balanced 180-degree turn.
  • Check altitude, position, and traffic.
  • Repeat to no lower than 2,500 feet, in case of line twist.
  • Coach measures the student’s landing distance from a planned target.