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



  • three jumps


  • 4,000 feet

This is the last category that distinguishes between students of different disciplines. Once you have demonstrated the ability to regain stability and control within five seconds after initiating a disorienting maneuver, a USPA Instructor in your discipline may clear you to jump without instructor supervision in freefall. At that point, any USPA Instructor may perform gripped exits with you, as well.

From Category E on, a USPA Instructor makes sure you are properly trained and supervised on each jump.

In Category E, you practice unpoised (door) exits and aerobatics to increase your confidence, awareness, and control in freefall. You should by now be jumping from the highest altitude available at your drop zone.

Under canopy, you’ll practice for softer landings by looking for the “sweet spot” in the flare—the flaring stroke that provides the best lift for that canopy with that jumper’s weight. The goal is to flare your canopy to fly as flat as possible until you begin to touch down. The USPA Instructor will also remind you of your responsibility (and every jumper’s responsibility) to observe and steer clear of other canopies.

By the end of Category D, you should have been able to land within 165 feet of the target with minimal assistance. In Category E, you should be able to do it on your own.

Part of the emergency procedure review includes a detailed discussion on preventing premature openings in freefall and more detailed procedures for two open canopies.

A rigger or instructor will introduce you to the open parachute system to identify its key components, along with the FAA’s rules for packing parachutes. Supervised packing begins in Category F.

You’ll discuss weight, balance, airspeed, jump run procedures, and aircraft emergency procedures, usually with a jump pilot. A jump pilot or USPA Instructor also shows you how to read a winds-aloft report. From that information, you’ll learn to calculate the best opening point over the ground.

In Categories E through H, you’re expected to select and prepare your equipment for jumping (with the supervising USPA Instructor’s advice), including obtaining all recommended pre-jump equipment checks. You’re also learning to spot, where to sit in the aircraft, and to allow enough distance between the jumpers exiting before you. You should know the surface winds and plan the appropriate landing pattern.

In order to be cleared to student self-supervision by a USPA Instructor, you must have obtained the following skills and knowledge:

  1. Demonstrated the ability to regain stability and control in freefall within five seconds after initiating a disorienting maneuver.
  2. Demonstrated sufficient canopy control skills to land safely in all expected conditions.
  3. Demonstrated the knowledge required to select and inspect gear before use.
  4. Shown knowledge of spotting required to make reasonable judgment about suggested exit points,
  5. Shown knowledge of both normal and emergency aircraft procedures for all aircraft types in common use for skydiving.