United States Parachute Association > Experienced Skydivers > SIM > Skydive School > CAT D Academics

Category D

Category at a Glance   |   Academics   |   Dive Flows   |   Quiz   |   Reading— Learning Spotting



Category D: Learning and Performance Objectives

  • solo, unassisted exit (AFF students)
  • freefall turns
  • freefall speeds and times (review)
  • rear riser control
  • building landing review
  • AAD (owner's manual)
  • pre-jump equipment check
  • introduction to three-ring release operation
  • cloud clearance and visibility
  • observe jump run


A. Exit & Freefall

  1. AFF students: poised exit without assistance

    Note: Instructor grips are optional, based on previous performance.

    1. Use the same climbout, set-up, launch, and flyaway procedure as on previous exits.
    2. Prepare for slightly different results without an instructor gripping the harness on exit.
    3. Altitude, arch, legs, relax.
    4. Review Category C freefall stability recovery and maintenance procedures (AIR, ROB, Five-Second rule, etc.)
    5. Exit without assistance and establish control within five seconds before advancing from Category D.
  2. Initiating freefall turns
    1. First establish a comfortable, relaxed, neutral body position.
    2. Find a point ahead on the horizon as a primary heading reference (and also use the instructor).
    3. Initiate a turn by changing the level of your upper arms to deflect air to one side; the forearms should follow.
    4. Assist the turn’s effectiveness by extending both legs slightly to counter the effects of tension in the upper body.
    5. Any deviation from the neutral position (as when initiating a turn) demands more effort to maintain the rest of the body in neutral.
    6. Maintain leg pressure and arch for a smooth turn.
    7. Stop small turns (90 degrees or less) by returning to the neutral body position.
    8. Stop larger turns (180 and 360 degrees) using the “start-coast-stop” principle.
      1. Start the turn using the turn position for the first half to three quarters of the turn.
      2. Return to neutral (to coast) when the desired heading comes into view.
      3. Counter the turn if necessary to stop on heading.
    9. To regain lost control: altitude, arch, legs, relax (neutral position), then pick a new heading to maintain.
    10. Stop all maneuvers at 5,000 feet and maintain a stable arch on heading with positive leg pressure through wave-off and deployment.
  3. Calculating freefall time according to exit altitude based on average terminal velocity of 120 mph:
    1. ten seconds for the first 1,000 feet
    2. 5.5 seconds for each additional thousand feet (round down to five seconds for an added safety margin)
    3. example: jump from 5,000 feet with a planned deployment altitude of 3,000 feet—
      1. Allow ten seconds from 5,000 to 4,000 feet.
      2. Add five seconds from 4,000 to 3,000 feet.
      3. Plan a total of 15 seconds for freefall.


B. Canopy

  1. Rear riser steering
    1. Steer using the rear risers with the brakes still set to change heading quickly after opening.
      1. With the brakes set, the canopy has less forward momentum to overcome for a turn.
      2. The rear risers operate more than the entire back quarter of canopy.
    2. Using risers to steer in case of a malfunctioned toggle (discussion):
      1. Release both brakes.
      2. You need to conserve enough strength to complete all turns with rear risers until landing and still be able to flare.
      3. Especially on a smaller canopy, you should practice riser flares many times above 2,000 feet on a routine jump before committing to a riser landing (important).
      4. Your plan to land or cut away your canopy in the event of a malfunctioned toggle should be made before you ever encounter the problem.
      5. One locked brake with the other released may necessitate a cutaway; decide and act by 2,500 feet.
    3. Practice all riser maneuvers above 2,000 feet and focus on the canopy pattern and traffic from 1,000 feet down, using a standard pattern for landing.
    4. Before making any turns, look in the direction of the turn to prevent collisions and entanglements.
  2. With minimal assistance, land within 165 feet of the target before advancing from Category D.


C. Emergency Procedure Review

  1. Training harness review (study Section 5-1.E of this manual):
    1. quicker recognition and decision-making ability for good or bad canopy (lower pull altitude)
      1. Review sample problems not requiring a cutaway and practice the procedures.
      2. Review premature deployment.
      3. Review sample malfunctions requiring a cutaway and practice the procedures.
    2. procedures for testing a questionable canopy above cutaway altitude
      1. Make two tries to clear the problem with toggles or back risers if altitude permits.
      2. The canopy must fly straight, turn, and flare reliably to be able to land safely.
      3. Decide to cut away or land the canopy by 2,500 feet and act.
  2. Procedures for landing on a building: Refer to the procedures in Section 5-1.F of this manual.


D. Equipment

  1. Automatic activation device operation
    1. The instructor or a rigger explains the basics of how to operate the AAD.
    2. More AAD information is contained in the owner’s manual, which every jumper should read.
    3. Refer to Section 5-3.G of this manual for more information on AADs.
  2. Checking assembly of the three-ring release system:

    Note: Disassembly and maintenance of the three-ring release is covered in Category H.

    1. Each ring passes through only one other ring.
    2. The white retaining loop passes through only the topmost, smallest ring.
    3. The white retaining loop passes through the cable housing terminal end.
    4. The release cable passes through the loop.
    5. The retaining loop is undamaged.
    6. The release cable is free of nicks, kinks, and burrs (especially on the end).
  3. Pre-jump equipment checks

    Note: The instructor should guide you through a complete pre-flight equipment check using a written checklist.

    1. Before each jump, check your equipment before putting it on.
    2. With the help of another jumper, get a complete equipment check with all your gear on before boarding
    3. Get your equipment checked once again before exiting the aircraft.
      1. “check of threes” (jumper self-check)
        1. three-ring assembly (and reserve static line)
        2. three points of harness attachment for snap assembly and correct routing and adjustment
        3. three operation handles—main activation, cutaway, reserve
      2. pin check back of system (by another jumper) top to bottom
        1. reserve pin in place (and automatic activation device on and set)
        2. main pin in place
        3. ripcord cable movement or correct bridle routing
        4. activation handle in place
      3. personal equipment check (“SHAGG”)

        Shoes—tied, no hooks
        Helmet—fit and adjustment
        Altimeter—set for zero
        Goggles—tight and clean
        Gloves—lightweight and proper size

  4. Jumpsuit or clothes
    1. access to handles—shirt tails, jackets, and sweatshirts tucked in, pockets zipped closed
    2. protection on landing
    3. provide correct fall rate


E. Rules & Recommendations

  1. Cloud clearance and visibility requirements for skydivers (FAR 105.17)
    1. Memorize the cloud clearance and visibility table in FAR 105.17 (or see illustration 4-D.1).
    2. The FAA?places the joint responsibility for cloud clearance and visibility on the jumper and the pilot.
  2. USPA requires that all student jump operations be completed prior to sunset (BSRs).


F. Spotting & Aircraft

  1. Instructor-assisted planning with the landing pattern for the day’s conditions
  2. Overview of aircraft spotting and jump-run procedures (what “spotting” means):

    Note: It is recommended that a jump pilot explain spotting procedures in Category E.

    1. determining the best opening point
      1. calculations from wind forecasts
      2. observation and discussion of previous jumpers’ canopy descents
    2. pre-flight briefing with the pilot to discuss the correct jump run and exit points
    3. guiding the pilot on jump run
    4. verifying that the area below is clear of clouds and other aircraft before jumping
  3. During jump run, observe spotting procedures and demonstrate the technique for looking straight down from the aircraft.
    1. Sight from the horizon looking forward.
    2. Sight from the horizon looking abreast.
    3. The junction of the two perpendicular lines from the horizon marks the point straight below the aircraft.
  4. You must get your head completely outside the aircraft to effectively look below for other aircraft and clouds.