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

Category D

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



  • two jumps


  • four jumps


  • 4,000 feet

By now, you have learned to safely control freefall by keeping track of your altitude, focusing on a neutral body position—especially your hips and legs—and relaxing. In Category D, you’ll learn to control heading by modifying the neutral position using your upper body to deflect air. You will want to demonstrate relatively effortless control of 90-, 180-, and 360-degree freefall turns before moving on to aerobatics, introduced in Category E.

IAD and static-line students start this category with a 15-second freefall, using the altimeter. IAD and static-line students jump from progressively higher altitudes as they demonstrate control and awareness. On delays of 15 seconds or more, a USPA Instructor should accompany the student in freefall for observation and coaching.

Under canopy, you’ll explore rear-riser control, which opens new safety options and adds fun to the canopy ride. Before advancing, you should demonstrate the ability to return to the drop zone and steer a planned, recognizable landing pattern without assistance. To progress to Category E, you should also by now be able to flare and land with minimal assistance. And each student should have been able to stand up on landing by the end of this category.

In Category C, you observed your instructor prepare and inspect your gear for the jump. Now, it’s your turn. In Category D, you’ll begin studying skydiving equipment in earnest to become responsible for your own pre-flight equipment checks. You’ll read the owner’s manual for the automatic activation device and learn how to operate one.

The USPA Instructor introduces some of the elements of spotting, which means choosing the correct exit point and guiding the pilot to it. You’ll observe jump-run operations from the door.

Study assignments include the FAA requirements for cloud clearance and visibility, which you will need to memorize.

Instructor: Transition Protocol

AFF students transferring to the remainder of the IAD or static-line progression must first exit stable on an AFF jump without instructor contact or make a stable IAD or static-line jump with a practice deployment (BSRs).