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

Category H

Category at a Glance   |   Academics   |   Dive Flows   |   Quiz



  • four jumps


  • 3,000 feet

The last category of the ISP finishes preparing you for the USPA A-license so you can supervise yourself as an independent skydiver. These are the last jumps where you require USPA Instructor supervision. Next you take your test.

Freefall skills combine gross movements using the start and stop principle to dive toward a position in the sky relative to another jumper, followed by the fine movements to safely dock that you learned in Category G. The freefall briefing includes a discussion on safety and the importance of recognizing and controlling formation approach speeds. You’ll also learn to look around while tracking, signaling for pull, and during deployment.

Under canopy, students with sufficient upper body strength explore the use of the front risers. The instructor explains the benefits and dangers of front-riser maneuvers. The discussion includes how to best recover from a turn made too low, one of the sport’s biggest killers.

Emergency procedure review covers unintentional water landings.

You should be able to demonstrate how to maintain the three-ring release system and replace a main container closing loop, two common owner operations.

Although A-license holders are not qualified for demonstration jumps, you will be authorized to jump off the regular DZ into landing areas meeting the BSRs for students and A-license holders. In this last category as a formal skydiving student, you’ll study the FAA requirements for jumps into the airspace over a private field, including what additional approvals may be necessary for the jump aircraft. This discussion should be with a jump pilot who can discuss those sections of FAR 105.

Category at a Glance

Advancement Criteria

Exit and Freefall
  • two dive and docks with minimum assistance
  • break off at the planned altitude without prompting
  • track 100 feet within ten degrees of the planned heading
  • two cumulative 90-degree front-riser turns
  • two cumulative 180-degree front-riser turns
  • total of five unassisted landings within 65 feet of the target (A-license requirement)


  • disassemble, perform owner maintenance, and reassemble three-ring release system
  • remove and replace or adjust a main container closing loop


oral quiz


A-License check dive


Book Stuff



Category H: Learning and Performance Objectives

  • diver exit
  • diving
  • breakoff
  • front riser control
  • water landing review
  • owner maintenance of gear
  • aircraft radio requirements
  • FAA notification requirements for jumping
  • FAA approvals for jump planes


A. Exit & Freefall

  1. Diver exit
    1. Twist out the door to place your hips and chest into the air coming from ahead of the aircraft, with your body oriented side-to-earth.
    2. Exit in a slow-fall position to arrest your forward throw from the aircraft, which is moving you away from your coach.
    3. Before starting to dive, hold the slow-fall position for two to three seconds while slowly turning toward your coach.
    4. Use a delta position to begin diving toward your coach.
  2. Using your spine to adjust dive angle
    1. Initiate the dive with your legs fully extended.
    2. Follow the person ahead closely, but be prepared to slow rapidly.
    3. Pitch up or down by curving your spine to increase or flatten the angle of the dive.
    4. Use fast- and slow-fall technique to adjust vertical position relative to the diver ahead.
    5. For safety and to prevent a collision, dive with an escape path in mind.
  3. Traffic on approach to the formation
    1. Dive in a straight line.
    2. Prevent collisions by watching for other jumpers while on approach to the formation.
  4. Start, coast and stop
    1. Once you are about halfway to the target, return to a more neutral position.
    2. You can increase your speed to the target if you find you have slowed too soon.
    3. Use a flare position (arms forward) to slow and stop at a position level and 10-20 feet away from the target; visual cues:
      1. back pack in view: approaching too high
      2. front of harness in view: approaching too low
    4. Begin a level approach using legs only.
    5. Remain aware of traffic to each side and for errant jumpers below the approach path.
  5. Rapidly arresting forward movement (very effective):
    1. Extend both arms forward.
    2. Use slow-fall technique (cup sternum and abdomen).
    3. Drop both knees.
  6. Breaking off and tracking
    1. Plan break-off altitude high enough for the jumper with the least experience to track to a safe distance from the formation, at least 100 feet for groups of five or fewer (minimum distance required for A-license check dive).
    2. breakoff
      1. The minimum breakoff altitude recommendations contained in the section on Group Freefall in this manual apply to very experienced formation skydivers jumping at a familiar location, using familiar equipment, and jumping with familiar people.
      2. If any of these conditions are not met, add 500-1,000 feet to your planned breakoff.
    3. Develop techniques to scan and steer clear of other jumpers ahead and below.
    4. Look sideways and above for other jumpers in the immediate area during wave-off and deployment so you can steer clear under canopy as soon as you open.


B. Canopy

  1. Using front risers
    1. Front risers may be used to dive the canopy:
      1. Applying half brakes for several seconds immediately before starting these maneuvers will reduce riser pressure
      2. to lose altitude rapidly
      3. to maintain position over ground in strong winds
    2. Heading control with front risers depends on
      1. airspeed
      2. the rate of turn
      3. the speed of turn entry
    3. Heading control with front risers takes practice to become predictable.
    4. Practice heading control with front-risers.
      1. Pull both front risers down to dive straight ahead.
      2. Pull one front riser to complete two 90-degree and two 180-degree turns.
    5. Initiate a sharp, deep front-riser turn, raise the riser slightly to decrease the turn rate, and then pull the riser fully down again to attempt to increase the rate of the turn.
      1. The rate of turn may not increase.
      2. The resistance on the riser may make it too difficult to pull the riser down farther after raising it.
      3. This exercise demonstrates the different nature of front-riser heading control.
    6. Complete all front-riser maneuvers by 2,000 feet.
  2. Front-riser safety
    1. Watch for traffic below and to the sides prior to initiating a front-riser dive.
    2. Front riser maneuvers can be very dangerous near the ground:
      1. Turbulence may affect canopy heading or descent rate.
      2. A mishandled front-riser turn can lead to an undesirable heading, e.g., towards an obstacle, without time to complete the turn safely before landing.
      3. A crowded landing pattern is never the place for high-speed maneuvers.
    3. Keep both steering toggles in hand when performing front-riser maneuvers to make heading changes more reliably and quickly if necessary.
  3. Accuracy: perform the remaining unassisted landings within 65 feet of the planned target to meet the USPA A-license requirements (five total required).


C. Emergency Procedure Review

  1. Flotation devices for water landings—
    1. water is an obstacle as defined in the BSRs (section 2-1 in this manual)
    2. are required for some jumpers; refer to the BSRs on Parachute Equipment
    3. are recommended for jumpers using ram-airs when jumping within a mile of water
    4. Adjust the planned spot to avoid bodies of water.
  2. Procedures for an unintentional water landing (see Section 5-1 in this manual)
  3. Recovery from a turn made too low over or to avoid water (see Section 5-1 in this manual)


D. Equipment

Note: An FAA rigger or instructor should teach this section.

  1. Owner maintenance of three-ring release system:
    1. Disassemble the system every month to clean the cable and massage the ends of the risers.
      1. Nylon riser webbing develops a memory, especially when dirty.
      2. When disassembled, twist and massage the nylon webbing around the two riser rings.
    2. Clean the cables.
      1. Most three-ring release cables develop a sludge-like coating that causes them to bind, increasing the required pull force.
      2. Refer to the manufacturer’s instructions for cleaning.
  2. Use the correct bands for each type of lines:
    1. Smaller lines require the smaller bands.
    2. Larger bands may be required for larger lines.
    3. Line stow bands should grasp the line stow bights tightly, resulting in six to 11 pounds of force to extract.
    4. Replace each stow band as it stretches, wears, or breaks.
  3. Main closing loop
    1. Damage greater than ten percent warrants replacement.
    2. tension
      1. Tension must be sufficient to keep the container closed in freefall.
      2. The closing pin should require eight to 11 pounds to extract (or check owner’s manual).
      3. A loose closing loop could result in a premature deployment.
      4. Freeflying maneuvers increase the importance of closing system security.
      5. Adjust the closing loop tension by moving the overhand knot or replacing the loop with the knot tied in the correct place.
    3. Use only closing loop material approved by the harness and container manufacturer.


E. Rules & Recommendations

  1. Refer to “Book Stuff” at the beginning of this category for independent study passages.
  2. Review all “Book Stuff” from other categories to study for the oral exam given with the A-license check dive.


F. Spotting & Aircraft

Note: An FAA-rated pilot or instructor should teach this section.

  1. Overview of aircraft radio use requirements
    1. The jump aircraft must have an operating radio for jumping to take place.
    2. The pilot must be in contact with air traffic control prior to jumping.
    3. Skim the FAA’s requirements for radio use in FAR 105.
  2. FAA notification required before a jump
    1. A jumper or the pilot must notify the appropriate air traffic control facility at least one hour prior to jumping (no more than 24 hours prior) in most airspace.
    2. Some drop zones have a written notification renewed annually for that location only.
    3. Skim FAR 105.25 for rules on notifications and authorizations prior to jumping.
    4. Study the overview of notification and authorization requirements contained in AC 105-2, Appendix 1.
  3. Aircraft approved for flight with door removed
    1. Some aircraft are unsafe for flight with the door open or removed.
    2. Aircraft approved for flight with the door removed may require additional modifications and usually require additional FAA field approval.
    3. Other modifications to a jump aircraft, e.g., in-flight doors, hand holds, or steps, require additional field approval or a supplementary type certificate.
    4. Review with the pilot the certificates of approval for modifications on the jump aircraft.


CAT H dive flows


play video Dive Plan: Dive to Dock

  • Exit from the door one second after the coach.
  • Present belly to wind in the slow fall position and maintain it for two seconds.
  • Coach establishes fall rate and holds heading.
  • Turn toward coach.
  • Dive and stop level ten to 20 feet out.
  • Altitude check every five seconds.
  • Approach and take grips.
  • Altitude permitting, coach dives to a point 50 to 100 feet laterally and 20 to 40 feet below.
  • Follow and repeat docking procedure.
  • Break off at 5,000 feet.
  • Coach remains in place and evaluates track.
  • Wave off and deploy by 3,000 feet.

play video USPA A-License Check Dive Flow

  • Spot.
  • Choose a comfortable exit.
  • Perform a 360-degree turn to the right and left, and backloop.
  • The evaluator moves 20 feet from the candidate and level.
  • Dock on the evaluator.
  • Initiate breakoff and track a minimum of 100 feet.
  • Wave off and pull by 3,000 feet.
  • Follow your pre-selected landing pattern.


  • Disassemble, clean, and reassemble a three-ring riser release system.
  • Replace or adjust a main closing loop.
  • play video Check altitude, position, and traffic.
  • Perform an on-heading front riser dive (keep toggles in hand).
  • Check altitude, position, and traffic.
  • Perform a 90-degree front riser turn (keep toggles in hand).
  • Check altitude, position, and traffic.
  • Perform a 180-degree front riser turn (keep toggles in hand).
  • Check position and altitude.
  • Enter a front riser turn, let up halfway and begin the turn again (keep toggles in hand).
  • Complete all front riser maneuvers by 2,000 feet.
  • Coach measures your landing distance from a planned target.

Refer to SIM Section 3-2 for complete instructions on conducting the USPA A-license examination and check dive. This jump must be evaluated by a USPA Instructor or Instructor Examiner.