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Introduction

Section 1: USPA

Section 2: BSRs

Section 3: Classification

Section 4: ISP

Section 5: General

Section 6: Advanced

Section 7: PRO

Section 8: Awards

Section 9: FAA Documents

Glossary & Appendices

 






 

Section 5: General Recommendations

Section Summary

Important Reference Numbers

  • skydiving emergencies—5-1
  • recurrency training (according to experience)—5-2
  • RSLs and AADs—5-3.F and G
  • pre-jump checklist—5-4.C
  • hazardous weather for jumpers—5-5.B
  • aircraft—5-6
  • spotting—5-7

This section of the SIM provides USPA recommendations for skydiving that apply to all jumpers, regardless of discipline or experience. USPA updates them as equipment and techniques change.
Experience shows that proficiency in any skill depends on how often the skill is exercised, especially with skills that require presence of mind, coordination, sharpness of reflexes, and control of emotions.

who  needs  this  section?

  • all active skydivers
  • instructors preparing to conduct recurrency training (Section 5-2)
  • all jumpers studying for USPA license examinations

 

5-1 Skydiving Emergencies

A. Practice emergency procedures

  1. Regular, periodic review, analysis, and practice of emergency procedures prepares you to act correctly in response to problems that arise while skydiving.
  2. Annually review all parachute emergency procedures in a training harness.
  3. Long lay-offs between jumps not only dull skills but heighten apprehensions.
  4. Before each jump, review the procedures to avoid emergency situations and the procedures to respond to emergencies if they occur.
  5. Practice your reserve emergency procedures on the ground at every reserve repack.
    1. Simulate some type of main malfunction on the ground, then cut away and deploy the reserve.
    2. This practice will provide you first-hand knowledge about the potential pull forces and direction of pull on your gear.

B. Prevention and preparation

  1. Proper preparation and responsible judgment greatly reduce the probability of encountering an emergency situation, but even with the most careful precautions emergencies may still occur from time to time.
  2. Skydiving is made safer by always anticipating and being prepared to respond to the types of emergencies that may arise.
  3. Failure to effectively deal with an emergency situation is one of the greatest causes of fatal incidents in skydiving.
  4. Safety results from reducing risk by doing the following:
    1. Acquiring accurate knowledge.
    2. Jumping only in suitable conditions.
    3. Evaluating the risk factors.
    4. Knowing your personal limitations.
    5. Keeping your options open.

C. Take action

  1. Deploy the parachute.
    1. Open the parachute at the correct altitude.
    2. A stable, face-to-earth body position improves opening reliability but is secondary to opening at the correct altitude.
  2. Promptly determine if the canopy has properly opened.
  3. Perform the appropriate emergency procedures and open the reserve parachute if there is any doubt whether the main canopy is open properly and controllable.
  4. Land in a clear area—a long walk is better than landing in a hazardous area.
  5. Land safely—land with your feet and knees together in preparation for performing a PLF (parachute landing fall) to avoid injury.

D. Aircraft emergencies

  1. Each skydiving center should establish and review procedures for all possible aircraft emergencies.
  2. Every pilot and non-student jumper should thoroughly understand these procedures.
  3. All students should take direction from their instructor(s).

E. Equipment emergencies

Parachute Malfunctions (general)
  1. The majority of all malfunctions can be traced to three primary causes:]
    1. poor or unstable body position during parachute deployment
    2. faulty equipment
    3. improper or careless packing
  2. Malfunction procedures
    1. Refer to Category A of the Integrated Student Program for specific, basic procedures for dealing with parachute malfunctions.
    2. In addition, other procedures are discussed in this section for licensed jumpers who may need to adjust procedures to accommodate different techniques, equipment, and personal preferences.
  3. All malfunctions can be classified as one of two types:
    1. total malfunction (parachute not activated, or activated but not deploying)
    2. partial malfunction (parachute deployed but not landable):
  4. You should decide upon and take the appropriate actions by a predetermined altitude:
    1. Students and A-license holders: 2,500 feet.
    2. B-D license holders: 1,800 feet.
  5. Reserve activation
    1. Reserve pilot chutes are manufactured with a metal spring in the center, which adds weight to the reserve pilot chute.
    2. During a stable, belly-to-earth reserve deployment, the reserve pilot chute can remain in the jumper’s burble for several seconds, delaying the reserve deployment.
    3. Immediately after pulling the reserve ripcord, look over your right shoulder while twisting your upper body upwards to the right, or sit up in a slightly head-high orientation, in order to change the airflow behind your container to help the reserve pilot chute launch into clean air.
    4. Most harness and container manufacturers secure the steering toggles to reserve risers using Velcro, which will firmly hold the toggle in place. Be sure to peel the Velcro before attempting to pull the toggles free from the risers to release the brakes.
Total Malfunction
  1. Identification
    1. A total malfunction includes deployment handle problems (unable to locate or extract the main parachute deployment handle), pack closure, and a pilot chute in tow.
    2. If altitude permits, the jumper should make no more than two attempts to solve the problem (or a total of no more than two additional seconds).
  2. Procedures:
    1. In the case of no main pilot chute deployment (e.g., missing or stuck handle, ripcord system container lock), deploy the reserve.
    2. hand-deployed pilot chute in tow malfunction procedures (choose one):
      1. For a pilot-chute-in-tow malfunction, there are currently two common and acceptable procedures, both of which have pros and cons.
      2. An instructor should be consulted prior to gearing up, and each skydiver should have a pre-determined course of action.
        Pilot chute in tow procedure 1:
        Pull the reserve immediately. A pilot-chute-in-tow malfunction is associated with a high descent rate and requires immediate action. The chance of a main-reserve entanglement is slim, and valuable time and altitude could be lost by initiating a cutaway prior to deploying the reserve. Be prepared to cutaway.
        Pilot chute in tow procedure 2:
        Cut away, then immediately deploy the reserve. Because there is a chance the main parachute could deploy during or as a result of the reserve activation, a cutaway might be the best response in some situations.
      3. In some cases, the parachute system used for the jump will require specific procedures that must be followed to reduce the chances of a main/reserve entanglement if the main canopy deploys after the reserve parachute is deployed. Check with the manufacturer of your harness and container for any specific procedures.
Partial Malfunction
  1. Identification: A partial malfunction is characterized by deployment (removal from the container) or partial deployment of the main parachute and includes, horseshoe (the container is open but the parachute is not properly deployed because something is snagged on the system), bag lock, streamer, lineover, line pressure knots, major (unlandable) canopy damage, and other open-canopy malfunctions.
  2. Procedure: The recommended procedure for responding to partial malfunctions is to cut away the main parachute before deploying the reserve.
  3. At some point during descent under a partial malfunction, it becomes too low for a safe cutaway and you must deploy the reserve without cutting away.
  4. Consider the operating range of the automatic activation device when determining your personal malfunction response altitudes.
Premature main container opening
  1. With a throw-out main pilot-chute deployment system (pilot chute deployment prior to closing pin extraction), the container can open before the pilot chute is deployed, causing one type of horseshoe malfunction.
  2. Prevention
    1. good equipment and closing system maintenance
    2. careful movement in the aircraft and during climbout and exit
    3. avoiding jumper contact that involves the main closing system
  3. Upon discovery that the main container has opened, the recommended response is as follows:
    1. First, attempt to deploy the main pilot chute for no more than two tries or two seconds, whichever comes first.
    2. Failing that, cut away and deploy the reserve.
    3. Out-of-sequence pilot-chute extraction:
      1. On systems with a bottom-of-container mounted pilot chute, premature extraction of the bag prior to pilot-chute deployment may make the pilot chute difficult to locate and extract.
      2. On any throw-out hand-deployed system, the pilot chute should be capable of extraction by the jumper or from tension on the main bridle caused by the deployed parachute in the event of this type of malfunction.
Two canopies out
Note: The following recommendations are drawn from experience with larger canopies during tests conducted in the mid-1990s. Smaller canopies may react differently and require a different response.
  1. Various scenarios can result in having both parachutes deploy with one of the following outcomes.
  2. One canopy inflated, another deploying
    1. Attempt to contain the deploying reserve or main canopy and stuff it between your legs.
    2. If the second canopy deployment is inevitable and there is sufficient altitude, disconnect the reserve static line and cut away the main.
    3. If the second deployment is inevitable and there is insufficient altitude for a cutaway, wait for inflation of the second canopy and evaluate the result.
      1. The two open canopies typically settle into one of three configurations, biplane, side-by-side, or downplane.
      2. Trying to force one configuration into a more manageable configuration is typically futile and can be dangerous.
  3. Stable biplane
    1. Unstow the brakes on the front canopy or leave the brakes stowed and steer by pulling on the rear risers and recover gently to full flight.
    2. Leave the brakes stowed on the rear canopy.
    3. Steer the front canopy only as necessary to maneuver for a safe landing.
    4. Use minimal control input as necessary for landing.
    5. Perform a parachute landing fall.
  4. Stable side-by-side (choose one procedure):
    Side-by-side procedure 1:
    If both canopies are flying without interference or possibility of entanglement and altitude permits:
    1. Disconnect the RSL.
    2. Cut away the main and steer the reserve to a normal landing.
    Side-by-side procedure 2:
    Land both canopies.
    1. Release the brakes of the dominant canopy (larger and more overhead) and steer gently with the toggles, or leave the brakes stowed and steer by pulling on the rear risers.
    2. Land without flaring and perform a parachute landing fall.
  5. Downplane or pinwheel (canopies spinning around each other)
    1. Disconnect the reserve static line if altitude permits.
    2. Cut away the main canopy and steer the reserve to a normal landing.
  6. Main-reserve entanglement
    1. Attempt to clear the problem by retrieving the less-inflated canopy.
    2. Perform a parachute landing fall.

F. Landing emergencies

WATER HAZARDS
  1. Procedures for an unintentional water landing:
    1. Continue to steer to avoid the water hazard.
    2. Activate the flotation device, if available.
    3. Disconnect the chest strap to facilitate getting out of the harness after landing in the water.
    4. Disconnect the reserve static line (if applicable) to reduce complications in case the main needs to be cut away after splashing down.
    5. Steer into the wind.
    6. Loosen the leg straps slightly to facilitate getting out of the harness after splashing down.
      1. If you loosen the leg straps too much, you may not be able to reach the toggles.
      2. Do not unfasten the leg straps until you have landed and your feet are in the water.
    7. Flare to half brakes at ten feet above the water (this may be difficult to judge, due to poor depth perception over the water).
    8. Prepare for a PLF, in case the water is shallow (it will be nearly impossible to determine the depth from above).
    9. Enter the water with your lungs filled with air.
    10. After entering the water, throw your arms back and slide forward out of the harness.
      1. Remain in the harness and attached to the canopy until actually in the water.
      2. If cutting away (known deep water only), do so only after both feet contact the water.
      3. If flotation gear is not used, separation from the equipment is essential.
      4. The container can also serve as a flotation device if the reserve canopy is packed in the container.
      5. Caution must be used to avoid the main canopy suspension lines if the reserve container is used for flotation.
      6. Tests have shown that a container with a packed reserve will remain buoyant for up to 45 minutes or longer.
    11. Dive deep and swim out from under the collapsed canopy.
    12. If covered by the canopy, follow one seam to the edge of the canopy until clear of it.
    13. In swift or shallow water, pull one toggle in or cut away if under the main canopy.
    14. Refill your lungs at every opportunity.
    15. Swim carefully away upwind or upstream to avoid entangling in the suspension lines.
    16. Remove any full coverage helmets in the event of breathing difficulties.
  2. If using the Air Force type (LPU) underarm flotation equipment—
    1. Although worn underneath, the bladders inflate outside the harness, so removal of the harness is not practical without first deflating the bladders.
    2. If you must remove the harness after landing, the bladders should be deflated, extricated from the harness, and reinflated (orally) one at a time.
  3. The risks of a water landing are greatly increased when a jumper wears additional weights to increase fall rate.
  4. Camera flyers, skysurfers, and other skydivers carrying additional equipment on a jump need to plan their water landing procedures accordingly.
  5. Water temperature must always be a consideration
    1. Water temperatures below 70 degrees Fahrenheit can severely limit the amount of time a person can survive while trying to tread water or remain afloat.
    2. Treading water or swimming will cause the body to lose heat more rapidly, because blood moves to the extremities and is then cooled more rapidly.
    3. Depending on the situation, it may be better to try to float rather than swim or tread water while waiting for help to arrive.
  6. Other references
    1. SIM Section 2-1, USPA Basic Safety Requirements on water jumping equipment
    2. SIM Section 6-5, Water Landing Recommendations (unintentional and intentional).
POWER LINES
  1. Power lines present a serious hazard to all aviators; know where they are near your DZ.
  2. Identify power lines in the landing area as early as possible and steer to avoid them.
  3. If a low turn is necessary to avoid a power line:
    1. Make the minimum, flat, braked turn necessary to miss the line.
    2. Execute a braked landing and flare.
    3. Prepare for a hard landing (PLF).
  4. If a power line landing is unavoidable:
    1. Drop any ripcords or other objects.
    2. Bring a ram-air canopy to slow flight.
    3. With a round canopy, place your hands between the front and rear risers on each side.
    4. Prepare for a PLF with your feet and knees tightly together and turn your head to the side to protect your chin.
    5. Land parallel to the power lines.
    6. Do not touch more than one wire at a time.
    7. If suspended in the wires:
      1. Wait for help from drop zone and power company personnel; nylon conducts electricity at higher voltages.
      2. Verify only with the power company that electrical power is off and will stay off.
      3. If the computer controlling the power distribution senses a fault in the line, computer-controlled resets may attempt to turn the power back on without warning.
TREES
  1. Avoid trees by careful spotting and a good approach pattern plan for the conditions.
  2. The potential dangers of landing in a tree extend until you are rescued and safely on the ground.
  3. Make any low-altitude avoidance turns from braked flight to avoid an equally dangerous dive following a turn from full flight.
  4. If a tree landing is unavoidable:
    1. With a ram-air canopy, hold the toggles at half brakes until tree contact.
    2. Prepare for a PLF; often the jumper passes through the tree and lands on the ground.
    3. Protect your body.
      1. Keep feet and knees tightly together.
      2. Do not cross your feet or legs.
      3. over your face with your hands while holding your elbows tightly against your stomach.
    4. Steer for the middle of the tree, then hold on to the trunk or main branch to avoid falling.
    5. If suspended above the ground, wait for help from drop zone personnel to get down.
    6. Don’t attempt to climb down from a tree without competent assistance (rescue personnel or properly trained drop zone staff).
BUILDINGS AND OTHER OBJECTS
  1. Plan your landing approach to be well clear of objects.
  2. Fly far enough from objects that another jumper or your own misjudgment does not force you into a building or other hazardous object.
  3. Focus on clear, open landing areas and steer the parachute to a clear area.
  4. Make any low-altitude avoidance turns from braked flight to avoid an equally dangerous dive following a turn from full flight.
  5. If landing on a building or object cannot be avoided, prepare for a PLF.
  6. Flare at ten feet above the first point of contact with the building or object.
  7. Strike the object feet first, whether landing on top or into the side of the object.
  8. After landing on top of an object in windy conditions:
    1. Disconnect the reserve static line (if possible) and cut away the main parachute.
    2. If landing with a reserve, retrieve and contain the canopy until removing the harness.
    3. Wait for competent help.
  9. OFF-FIELD LANDINGS
    1. Jumpers prefer to land in the planned area, which is usually familiar and free of obstacles; however, circumstances might make that difficult or impossible:
      1. spotting error
      2. unexpected wind conditions
      3. inadvertent high opening
      4. low opening, especially under a reserve canopy
    2. Problems resulting from less-than-ideal opening positions over the ground have resulted in injuries and fatalities for students and experienced jumpers:
      1. intentional low turns into an unfamiliar landing area.
      2. unplanned low turns trying to avoid obstacles
      3. landing into or on an obstacle or uneven terrain
      4. errors made after trying to return to the planned landing area or returning lower than planned, when a better choice was available
    3. Avoiding off-field landings
      1. Know the correct exit point for the current conditions.
      2. Once at the door of the aircraft, check the spot before exiting and request a go-around if necessary.
      3. In freefall, check the spot soon after exit and adjust opening altitude if necessary and safe to do so, considering the following:
        1. other groups or individuals in freefall nearby
        2. jumpers from other planes (multiple-plane operations)
    4. If an off-field landing cannot be avoided:
      1. Do not waste altitude trying to reach the main landing area when a viable alternative is available.
      2. Decide on a viable alternative landing area based on your current location and the wind speed and direction.
      3. Plan a descent strategy and landing pattern for the alternative landing area.
      4. Check the alternative landing area carefully for hazards while still high enough to adjust the landing pattern to avoid them.
        1. When checking for power lines, it is easier to see the poles and towers than the wires themselves.
        2. Determine the wind direction to predict turbulence created by trees or other obstacles, and plan a landing spot accordingly.
        3. Fences and hills may be difficult to see from higher altitudes.
        4. Fences and power lines often form straight lines along the ground
    5. Canopy control
      1. A braked approach and braked turns allow for the canopy to be flown at a slower forward speed and descent rate but may lengthen the approach glide.
      2. Altitude-conserving braked turns may be necessary to avoid an obstacle.
      3. A braked turn at a low altitude may not allow enough time for recovery to full flight in time for a landing flare, and a jumper may need to make a braked landing.
      4. Jumpers should practice braked turns and approaches often to prepare for this eventuality.
    6. Returning from a long distance:
      1. Flying a long distance in high winds can disorient a jumper for altitude awareness and could lead to a low turn.
      2. High winds at higher altitudes typically diminish near the ground and should not be counted on to carry a jumper over an obstacle or hostile landing area.
      3. A jumper attempting to return from a long distance should keep alternatives in mind along the way and begin an approach into a clear area by 1,000 feet.
      4. Landing into the wind is desirable, but not at the risk of a low turn.
      5. In any off-field landing, a parachute landing fall is a good defense against injury from unknown surface and terrain.
    7. Jumpers must respect the property where the landing took place.
      1. Do not disturb livestock.
      2. Leave gates as they were found.
      3. Avoid walking on crops or other cultivated vegetation.
      4. property damage
        1. Report any property damage to the property owner and make arrangements for repairs.
        2. USPA membership includes insurance for such situations.

    G. Freefall collisions

    1. A collision danger faces jumpers exiting in a group or on the same pass when they lose track of each other.
    2. Differential freefall speeds may reach upwards of 150 mph horizontally and vertically in combination.
    3. Jumpers must take precautions to prevent a collision with freefalling jumpers during and after opening.

    H. Canopy collisions

    1. The best way to avoid a collision is to know where other canopies are at all times.
    2. Most canopy collisions occur soon after deployment when two jumpers open too close to each other, or below 1,000 feet while in the landing pattern.
    3. Higher break-off altitudes, better planning and tracking farther can help ensure clear airspace during deployment.
    4. Remaining vigilant throughout the canopy descent and always looking in the direction of the turn before initiating it can help to identify and avoid other canopies during the descent.
    5. If approaching a jumper head on, both canopies should steer to the right unless it is obvious that steering left is necessary to avoid the collision (both jumpers are more offset towards the left).
    6. If a collision is inevitable:
      1. Protect your face and operation handles.
      2. Tuck in your arms, legs and head for protection against the impact.
      3. Avoid hitting the suspension lines of the other canopy or the other jumper, if at all possible.
      4. If a collision with the other jumper’s suspension lines is unavoidable, it may be possible to spread your legs and one arm, while protecting your handles with the other arm, in order to keep from passing through the suspension lines during the collision. However, a collision at high speed with suspension lines can lead to severe cuts and burns.
      5. Check altitude with respect to the minimum cutaway decision and execution altitude recommended for your experience.
      6. Communicate before taking action:
        1. The jumper above can strike the jumper below during a cutaway unless one or both are clear or ready to fend off.
        2. The jumper below can worsen the situation for the jumper above by cutting away before he or she is ready.
        3. If both jumpers are cutting away and altitude permits, the second jumper should wait until the first jumper clears the area below.
        4. The first jumper should fly from underneath in a straight line after opening.
        5. At some point below a safe cutaway altitude (1,000 feet), it may become necessary to deploy one or both reserves (may not be a safe option with an SOS system).
        6. If both jumpers are suspended under one flying canopy at a low altitude, it may become necessary to land with only that canopy.
        7. Communications may be difficult if one or both jumpers are wearing full-face helmets.
      7. SIM Section 6-6 F. Emergency procedures contains additional recommendations about dealing with canopy entanglements.

    I. Low turns

    1. Low turns under canopy are one of the biggest causes of serious injury and death in skydiving.
    2. A low turn can be premeditated or result from an error in judgment or experience with a situation.
    3. To avoid low turns, fly to a large, uncrowded landing area free of obstacles and—
      1. Fly a planned landing pattern that promotes a cooperative traffic flow.
      2. If landing off-field, plan a landing pattern by 1,000 feet.
    4. Once a jumper realizes that a turn has been made at an unsafe altitude:
      1. Use toggle control to get the canopy back overhead and stop the turn.
      2. Stop the dive.
      3. Flare and prepare for a hard landing (PLF).
      4. Manage the speed induced by the turn.
        1. Expect more responsive flare control with the toggles due to the increased airspeed.
        2. Expect a longer, flatter flare.
      5. In case of premature contact with the ground, no matter how hard, keep flying the canopy to reduce further injury.

5-2 Recurrency Training

A. Students

Students who have not jumped within the preceding 30 days should make at least one jump under the direct supervision of an appropriately rated USPA Instructor.

B. Licensed skydivers

  1. Skydivers returning after a long period of inactivity encounter greater risk that requires special consideration to properly manage.
  2. Care should be taken to regain or develop the knowledge, skills, and awareness needed to satisfactorily perform the tasks planned for the jump.
  3. Jumps aimed at sharpening survival skills should precede jumps with other goals.

C. Changes in procedures

  1. If deployment or emergency procedures are changed at any time, the skydiver should be thoroughly trained and practice under supervision in a harness simulator until proficient.
  2. Ground training should be followed by a solo jump which includes several practice sequences and deployment at a higher-than-normal altitude.
  3. The jumper should repeat ground practice at short intervals, such as before each weekend’s jump activities, and continue to deploy at a higher-than-normal altitude until thoroughly familiar with the new procedures.

D. Long lay-offs

  1. Jumpers should receive refresher training appropriate for their skydiving history and time since their last skydive.
    1. Jumpers who were very experienced and current but became inactive for a year or more should undergo thorough training upon returning to the sport.
    2. Skydivers who historically jump infrequently should review training after layoffs of even less than a year.
  2. Skydiving equipment, techniques, and procedures change frequently.
    1. During recurrency training following long periods of inactivity, jumpers may be introduced to new and unfamiliar equipment and techniques.
    2. Procedures change to accommodate developments in equipment, aircraft, flying styles, FAA rules, and local drop zone requirements.
  3. Returning skydivers require thorough practical training in the following subject areas:
    1. aircraft procedures
    2. equipment
    3. exit and freefall procedures
    4. canopy control and landings
    5. emergency procedures
A License

USPA A-license holders who have not made a freefall within 60 days should make at least one jump under the supervision of a currently rated USPA instructional rating holder until demonstrating altitude awareness, freefall control on all axes, tracking, and canopy skills sufficient for safely jumping in groups.

B License

USPA B-license holders who have not made a freefall skydive within the preceding 90 days should make at least one jump under the supervision of a USPA instructional rating holder until demonstrating the ability to safely exercise the privileges of that license.

C and D License

USPA C and D-license holders who have not made a freefall skydive within the preceding 180 days should make at least one jump under the supervision of a USPA instructional rating holder until demonstrating the ability to safely exercise the privileges of that license.

5-3: Equipment

A. Federal regulations on equipment

  1. The design, maintenance, and alteration of parachute equipment is regulated by the Federal Aviation Administration of the U.S. Department of Transportation, which publishes Federal Aviation Regulations (FARs).
  2. All skydivers should be familiar with the following FARs and their applicability to skydiving (see Section 9-1 and 9-2 of this manual):
    1. Part 65—Certification of Parachute Riggers
    2. Part 91—General Flight Rules
    3. Part 105—Parachute Operations
    4. Advisory Circular 105-2—explains in detail various areas of parachute equipment, maintenance, and modifications.
  3. Approval of parachutes is granted to manufacturers in the form of Technical Standard Orders (TSOs).
    1. TSO C-23 is issued to parachutes that comply with the current performance standards.
      1. NAS 804 for TSO C-23b
      2. AS-8015A for TSO C-23c
      3. AS-8015B for TSO C-23d
    2. These standards specify the tests that must be passed for a parachute system and its component parts to receive approval for civilian use.
    3. Procedures for obtaining TSO approval for parachutes or component parts may be found in FAR Part 21 (not included in the SIM).
  4. Alterations to approved parachutes may be performed only by those who have been issued an FAA approval for the alteration.
    1. Approval may be obtained by submitting a request and description of the alteration to the manufacturer or to an FAA Flight Standards District Office.
    2. The following are eligible to receive alteration approval:
      1. FAA master rigger
      2. manufacturer with an approved quality assurance program
    3. Alterations may not be performed without full documentation of FAA approval for the specific alteration.

B. Main parachute

  1. Jumpers should choose canopies that will provide an acceptable landing in a wide range of circumstances, based on several factors including canopy size, wing loading, planform (shape), skill level, and experience.
  2. Owners should verify with a rigger that all applicable updates and bulletins have been accomplished.
  3. Jumpers should observe the recommendations of the canopy manufacturer for the correct canopy size, usually listed by maximum recommended weight with respect to other factors:
    1. the jumper’s experience
    2. drop zone elevation
    3. other conditions, such as density altitude
  4. Wing loading, measured as exit weight in pounds per square foot (psf) provides only one gauge of a canopy’s performance characteristics.
    1. A smaller canopy at an equal wing loading compared to a larger one of the same design will exhibit a faster and more radical control response, with more altitude loss in any maneuver.
    2. Design, materials, and construction techniques can cause two equally wing-loaded canopies to perform very differently.
    3. Different planforms (square vs. elliptical) will exhibit very different handling characteristics.
  5. The following are suggested maximum wing loadings based on experience level:
    1. A and B license 1.0 pounds per square foot (psf) maximum
    2. C license 1.2 psf maximum
    3. D license 1.4 psf maximum until demonstrated proficiency under canopy.
    4. Jumpers should receive formal canopy training and consult with an S&TA before exceeding these recommendations.
  6. Any parachute 150 square feet or smaller is considered a high-performance parachute and falls into the D license guideline regardless of the wing loading.
  7. Further downsizing beyond the D license guideline above should be performed according to the downsizing progression listed in SIM Section 6-10 Advanced Canopy Flight.

C. Reserve parachute

  1. All skydivers should use a steerable reserve canopy.
  2. The FAA requires the reserve parachute assembly, including harness, container, canopy, risers, pilot chute, deployment device, and ripcord, to be approved.
  3. Jumpers must observe FARs regarding the manufacturer’s maximum certificated weights and speeds for parachutes.
    1. Parachutes approved under FAA Technical Standard Order C-23b, C-23c, and C-23d are subject to different testing standards and operation limits.
    2. The entire parachute system is limited to the maximum certificated load limit of the harness- and-container system or reserve canopy, whichever is less.
    3. Load limits are found in the owner’s manual, the manufacturer’s website, or placarded on the parachute component itself.
  4. For a ram-air reserve, jumpers should not exceed the maximum suspended weight specified by the manufacturer (not necessarily the maximum certificated load limit).
  5. A jumper may exceed the rated speeds of a certificated parachute system (harness and/or parachute) by jumping at higher MSL altitudes or falling in vertical freefall orientations.
  6. Round reserve canopy
    1. should be equipped with a deployment device to reduce the opening force and control deployment
    2. should have a rate of descent that does not exceed 18 feet per second (fps)
    3. must not exceed a rate of descent of 25 fps at sea level conditions (NAS 804)
    4. The following scale indicates the minimum size round reserve canopy recommended for use according to the exit weight of the skydiver:

D. Harness and container system

  1. The FAA requires the harness of a dual parachute assembly to be approved.
  2. All harness ends should be folded over and sewn down or wrapped and sewn down to prevent the harness from unthreading through the hardware upon opening.
  3. Canopy release systems should be maintained according to the schedule and procedures in the owner’s manual.
  4. It is desirable for the manufacturing industry to standardize the location of all operational controls.
  5. The harness should be equipped with single-point riser releases (one handle releases both risers) for easy and rapid disengagement from the main canopy.
  6. Reserve ripcord handles:
    1. Loop type handles should be made of metal.
    2. Plastic and composite reserve ripcord handles are not recommended.
    3. Jumpers should practice peeling and pulling pillow-type reserve ripcord handles until certain they can operate them easily in an emergency.
  7. All ripcord housings ends should be secured.
  8. Ripcord pins, when seated, should either be started inside the housing or clear the closing loop before entering the housing.
  9. A ripcord cable stop should not be used; fatal accidents caused by reserve entanglements with ripcords secured in this manner have been documented.
  10. Reserve pilot chute:
    1. The reserve system is usually designed to use a specific type of pilot chute.
    2. It should be properly seated in the container and repacked if it has shifted.
  11. Deployment brake systems should provide secure stowage of the steering toggles and slack brake line to prevent brake-line entanglements and premature brake release.

E. Main pilot chute

  1. The main pilot chute is designed as part of the main parachute system.
    1. On throw-out hand-deployed systems, the pilot chute and pouch size must be compatible.
    2. Pilot chute size can affect the opening characteristics of the main canopy.
  2. Collapsible hand-deployed pilot chutes add complexity and additional maintenance requirements to the system.
    1. additional wear from more moving parts
    2. danger of a high-speed pilot-chute-in-tow malfunction if the pilot chute is not set or cocked
  3. Spring loaded and hand-deployed pilot chutes of both types (throw-out and pull-out) each have strengths and weaknesses that affect the user’s emergency procedures and other decisions.

F. Reserve static line (RSL)

  1. A reserve static line attaches to a main canopy riser to extract the reserve ripcord pin immediately and automatically after separation of the main risers from the harness.
  2. An RSL is recommended for all experienced jumpers.
    1. The RSL backs up the jumper by extracting the reserve ripcord pin after a cutaway.
    2. the RSL—
      1. must be routed and attached correctly to function
      2. when misrouted, can complicate or prevent a cutaway
    3. RSLs can complicate certain emergency procedures:
      1. cutaway following a dual deployment
      2. cutting away from an entanglement after a collision
      3. unstable cutaway, although statistics show that chances are better from an unstable reserve deployment than delaying after a cutaway
      4. unstable cutaway with a helmet camera or other protruding device
      5. cutaway with a surfboard (although an RSL may have prevented two fatal skysurfing accidents)
      6. cutaway on the ground in high winds
      7. broken riser on the RSL side (results in reserve deployment); prevention—
        1. inspecting and replacing worn risers
        2. packing for soft openings (tight line stows; see manufacturer’s instructions)
        3. stable deployment at slow speeds
    4. If temporarily disconnecting an RSL, care must be taken so it doesn’t interfere with the operation of the parachute system; consult a rigger.
  3. When using a reserve static line device, the skydiver must not depend on the static line device and must manually pull the reserve ripcord immediately after the cutaway.
  4. An RSL may not be desirable when attempting linked canopy formations.
  5. Unless the manufacturer’s instructions state otherwise, a connector device between the left and right main risers should not be used.

G. Automatic activation device (AAD)

  1. An AAD initiates the reserve deployment sequence at a pre-set altitude (also sometimes used on the main parachute system).
  2. An AAD is encouraged for all licensed jumpers.
  3. The use of an AAD for activation of the reserve parachute, coupled with proper training in its use, has been shown to significantly increase the chances of surviving a malfunction or loss of altitude awareness.
  4. The AAD is used to back up the jumper’s deployment and emergency procedures, but no jumper should ever rely on one.
  5. The FAA requires that if an AAD is used, it must be maintained in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions (FAR 105.43.c).
  6. Each jumper should read and understand the owner’s manual for the AAD.
  7. An AAD may complicate certain situations, particularly if the jumper deploys the main parachute low enough for the AAD to activate.
  8. Understanding and reviewing of the emergency procedures for Two Canopies Out (SIM Section 5-1) is essential.

H. Static line (main)

  1. The FAA requires static line deployment to be either by direct bag or pilot-chute assist.
  2. The direct bag is a more positive method of static-line deployment because it reduces the chance of the student interfering with main canopy deployment.
  3. The FAA requires an assist device to be used with a static line deployment when rigged with pilot-chute assist.
    1. The assist device must be attached at one end to the static line so that the container is opened before the device is loaded, and at the other end to the pilot chute.
    2. The FAA requires the pilot chute assist device to have a load strength of at least 28 but not more than 160 pounds.
  4. The static line should be attached to an approved structural point of the airframe.
    1. A seat belt attachment point is considered part of the airframe, but the static line should pull on it in a longitudinal direction.
    2. Aircraft seats are not considered to be part of the airframe.
  5. A static line should be constructed:
    1. with a length of at least eight feet but not more than 15 feet and should never come into contact with the aircraft’s tail surfaces
    2. with a locking slide fastener, ID number 43A9502 or MS70120
    3. with webbing of not less than 3,600 pounds tensile strength

I. Borrowing or changing equipment

  1. Parachutes should not be rented or loaned to persons unqualified to carry out an intended skydive or to persons of unknown ability.
  2. The use of unfamiliar (borrowed, new) equipment without sufficient preparation has been a factor in many fatalities.
  3. Equipment changes:
    1. Changes in type of equipment should be avoided or minimized whenever possible during student training.
    2. For all jumpers when changes are made, adequate transition training should be provided.
  4. When jumping a new or different main parachute, a jumper should follow the canopy familiarization progression outlined in Categories A-H of the Integrated Student Program (multiple jumps).

J. Use of altimeters

  1. Skydivers must always know their altitude.
  2. There is a great reduction of depth perception over water and at night.
  3. Pull altitude and other critical altitudes should be determined by using a combination of visual reference to the ground and to an altimeter.
    1. As a primary reference, each skydiver should learn to estimate critical altitudes (break-off, minimum deployment, minimum cutaway) by looking at the ground and mentally keeping track of time in freefall.
    2. Altimeters provide excellent secondary references for developing and verifying primary altitude-recognition skills.
    3. Some jumpers may desire more than one altimeter and even more than one altimeter of the same type to have a reference available throughout the jump.
    4. Jumpers should wear their altimeters so they are available to them during as many phases of the jump as possible.
  4. Some examples of altimeter types and locations include:
    1. visual altimeter worn on the wrist
      1. easy to read in a variety of freefall positions
      2. wrist is usually unaffected by burbles
      3. difficult to read while tracking
    2. visual altimeter worn on the chest or main lift web
      1. reference for others in a group, particularly when belly flying
      2. readable during tracking
      3. subject to error and erratic readings while back-to-earth
    3. audible altimeter, typically worn against the ear
      1. Audibles provide a good reference to key altitudes near the end of the planned freefall.
      2. Extreme background noise of freefall and a jumper’s attention to another event can render audible altimeters ineffective.
      3. Students should use audible altimeters only after demonstrating a satisfactory level of altitude awareness.
  5. Initial and refamiliarization training for altimeter use should include:
    1. Looking at the ground.
    2. Looking at the altimeter and note the altitude.
    3. Repeat this procedure several times per jump to develop the ability to eyeball the altitude.
  6. Altimeter errors
    1. Altimeters use electronic and/or mechanical components that are subject to damage and may fail in use.
    2. Minor differences in indicated altitude are to be expected.
    3. Set the altimeter at the landing area and do not readjust the altimeter after leaving the ground.
    4. An altimeter may lag during both ascent and descent; plus or minus 0-500 feet is to be expected.
    5. The needle can stick during both ascent and descent—a visual cross reference with the ground should be used in combination with the altimeter.
    6. When the altimeter is in a burble (as when falling back-to-earth), it may read high by as much as 1,000 feet.
  7. Handle altimeters with care and maintain and store them according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

K. Accessories

  1. The use of personal equipment should be determined by the type of jump experience and proficiency of the skydiver, weather, and drop zone conditions.
  2. Clothing and equipment:
    1. Adequate protective clothing, including jumpsuit, helmet, gloves, goggles, and footwear should be worn for all land jumps.
    2. Gloves are essential when the jump altitude temperature is lower than 40° F.
    3. A jumper should always carry a protected but accessible knife.
    4. A rigid helmet—
      1. should be worn on all skydives (tandem students may wear soft helmets)
      2. should be lightweight and not restrict vision or hearing
    5. All jumpers are advised to wear flotation gear when the intended exit, opening, or landing point of a skydive is within one mile of an open body of water (an open body of water is defined as one in which a skydiver could drown).

L. Main parachute packing

  1. The main parachute of a dual assembly may be packed by—
    1. an FAA rigger
      1. An FAA rigger may supervise other persons in packing any type of parachute for which that person is rated (FAR 65.125.a and b).
      2. A non-certificated person may pack a main parachute under the direct supervision of an FAA rigger (FAR 105.43.a).
    2. the person who intends to use it on the next jump (FAR 105.43.a)
  2. Packing knowledge:
    1. Each individual skydiver should have the written approval of an S&TA, USPA Instructor, I/E, or an FAA rigger to pack his or her own parachute.
    2. All parachute packers should know and understand the manufacturer’s instructions for packing, maintenance, and use.
  3. Tandem main parachutes may be packed by (FAR 105.45.b.1)—
    1. an FAA rigger
    2. the parachutist in command making the next jump with that parachute
    3. a packer under the direct supervision of a rigger
  4. Exercise extreme caution when using temporary packing pins.

M. Parachute maintenance

  1. Inspection:
    1. The equipment owner should frequently inspect the equipment for any damage and wear.
    2. Any questionable condition should be promptly corrected by a qualified person.
    3. Detailed owner inspection of the parachute is outlined in the Equipment Section of Category G of the USPA Integrated Student Program, SIM Section 4.
  2. Maintenance and repair of the reserve:
    1. The FAA requires the entire reserve assembly to be maintained as an approved parachute.
    2. Repairs to the reserve assembly must be done by an FAA-certificated parachute rigger.
  3. Maintenance and repair of the main:
    1. Repairs to the main may be done by an FAA-certificated rigger or by the owner if he or she has adequate knowledge and skill.
    2. The main parachute and its container need not be maintained as “approved.”
  4. Major repairs and alterations may be performed only by or under the supervision of:
    1. an FAA master rigger
    2. the parachute manufacturer
    3. any other manufacturer the FAA considers competent

5-4 Pre-Jump Safety Checks and Briefings

A. Equipment preparation is essential

  1. Preparing all skydiving equipment and procedures prior to each jump is critical to preventing accidents.
  2. This information is intended to provide the instructional staff and other experienced jumpers with a reference to use as guidance in developing a personal checklist appropriate to the procedures and equipment in use.
  3. In some cases, these checks will be the principal responsibility of others—the pilot, instructor, coach, rigger, ground crew chief, etc., however, no one should assume that these responsibilities have been carried out by others.
    1. Initially, the USPA Instructor performs these pre-jump safety checks and briefings for his or her students.
    2. As students progress, they should begin to learn to do them for themselves.
    3. Through leadership and attitude, the instructional staff has the opportunity to foster a respect for safety that will serve the beginning skydiver well when assuming sole responsibility for all of his or her skydiving activities.
  4. Students progressing through the training program and all experienced jumpers should review all of the items on these lists to familiarize themselves with the wide range of details.
  5. This section includes checklists for:
    1. aircraft preflight
    2. ground crew briefing
    3. pilot briefing
    4. skydiver briefing
    5. equipment check
    6. before-takeoff check
    7. takeoff
    8. spotting
    9. jump run
    10. descent and landing in aircraft
    11. post-jump debriefing

B. Briefings

  1. Aircraft preflight (primarily the responsibility of the pilot, but the supervising USPA instructional rating holder should check also):
    1. placards: in place (as required)
    2. seats removed (as required)
    3. door stop (under Cessna wing) removed
    4. sharp objects taped
    5. loose objects secured
    6. steps and handholds secure, clean of oil
    7. aircraft altimeter set
    8. filing and activation of notice to airmen (NOTAM)
    9. aircraft radio serviceable
    10. static-line attachment secure
    11. knife in place and accessible
    12. remote spotting correction and communication signals operational (larger aircraft)
    13. winds-aloft report or wind-drift indicators available
    14. seat belts available and serviceable
    15. passenger hand straps near door removed
  2. Ground crew briefing: A load organizer (a senior jumper or instructional rating holder) should coordinate to ensure that everyone is in agreement:
    1. communications procedures to meet BSR requirements for ground-to-air communication: smoke, panels, radio, etc.
    2. jump order
    3. distance between groups on exit
    4. landing pattern priorities
    5. control of spectators and vehicles
    6. student operations (USPA Instructor)
      1. wind limitations
      2. setting up and maintaining a clear target area
      3. critiques of student landings
      4. maintenance of master log
      5. accident and first-aid procedures
  3. Pilot briefing: The load organizer coordinates with the pilot.
    1. jump run altitudes
    2. jump run direction
    3. communications (ground to air, jumpmaster to pilot, air traffic control)
    4. aircraft attitudes during corrections on jump run
    5. jump run speed and cut
    6. locking wheel brake (if applicable), but the parking brake is not to be used
    7. gross weight and center of gravity requirements and limitations
    8. procedures for aircraft emergencies
    9. procedures for equipment emergencies in the aircraft
  4. Skydiver briefing
    1. conducted by the load organizer
      1. seat belt off altitude: 1,500 feet above ground level (AGL) or designated by DZ policy
      2. movement in the aircraft, especially during jump run
      3. aircraft emergency procedures, including communication procedures
      4. parachute equipment emergency procedures
    2. to be conducted by the USPA Instructor:
      1. review of student log or record
      2. jump plan
        1. exit and freefall, including jump commands
        2. emergency procedure training or review
        3. canopy control and landing pattern
        4. drop zone appearance and hazards (an aerial photo or map is recommended)
      3. protection of operation handles and pins
      4. conduct in aircraft: mental preparation and movement

C. Equipment checklist

  1. Equipment check responsibilities before boarding and before exiting:
    1. The USPA Instructor or Coach checks the student’s equipment.
    2. Each individual skydiver ensures that his or her own equipment is inspected three times prior to each jump.
      1. before putting it on
      2. prior to boarding
      3. prior to exit
  2. Checklist
    1. helmet: proper fit and the chin strap threaded correctly
    2. goggles or glasses secure and clean
    3. canopy releases: properly assembled and periodic maintenance performed
    4. reserve static line (RSL) hooked up and routed correctly (refer to manufacturer’s instructions)
    5. altimeters checked and set and ensure that visual altimeters do not block operation handles
    6. main parachute
      1. main canopy properly sized
      2. container properly closed, pull-up cord removed, and closing loop in good condition
      3. activation device
        1. ripcord: secure in the pocket, housing tacked and secured on both ends, proper movement of the pin or cable in the housing and closing loop, and pilot chute seated correctly
        2. throw-out pilot chute: secure in the pouch, bridle routed correctly and secure, pin secure on the bridle and seated in the closing loop, and slack above the pin (this may apply to some rigs; see manufacturer’s instructions for details)
        3. pull-out pilot chute (not approved for student use) handle secure: pin seated, free movement of the handle through pin extraction (see manufacturer’s instructions)
      4. practice main deployment handle secure (student)
    7. harness:
      1. straps not twisted and routed correctly
        1. chest strap
        2. leg straps
        3. belly band, if applicable
      2. snaps secured and closed and/or friction adapters properly threaded
      3. adjusted for proper fit
      4. running ends turned back and sewn
      5. loose ends tucked into keepers
    8. belly band (if used):
      1. correctly routed
      2. adjusted
      3. friction adapter properly threaded
    9. reserve:
      1. proper size for jumper
      2. pin condition—seated, not bent, and closing loop(s) in good condition
      3. pilot chute seated
      4. packing data card in date and seal in place
      5. ripcord handle pocket condition
      6. pin cover flap closed
      7. overall appearance
    10. risers not twisted and toggles secure
    11. suspension and control lines not exposed
    12. static line (students):
      1. correct length, routing, and slack for operation compatible with that aircraft
      2. assist device (if required) attached properly
      3. static-line secured to prevent premature deployment
      4. closing pin or cable in place
    13. personal:
      1. footwear—proper type and fit, no open hooks or buckles
      2. protective clothing
        1. jumpsuit pockets closed
        2. other outerwear compatible with jumping
        3. gloves as required
      3. no unnecessary accessories, such as cameras
      4. empty pockets
      5. earplugs
    14. automatic activation device (AAD):
      1. serviced according to manufacturer’s schedule
      2. calibrated for jump (if required)
      3. proper routing of cable(s)
      4. control unit secured in proper location
      5. armed or turned on as required
    15. radio (students) properly secured and functional (test with base station)
    16. condition of all touch fastener (Velcro®) and tuck tabs
    17. overall fit and appearance

5-5 Weather

A. Determining winds

  1. Surface winds must be determined prior to jumping and should be measured at the actual landing area.
  2. Winds aloft:
    1. Winds aloft reports available from the FAA flight service are only forecasts.
    2. Observations may be made while in flight using navigation systems, for example, global positioning satellite systems (GPS).
    3. Winds can change at any time, so all available information should be checked by the jumper before and during the jump.

B. Hazardous weather

  1. Fronts approach with much warning but can catch the unaware off guard.
    1. Some fronts are preceded by a gust front (a line of sudden and severe weather).
    2. Frontal approach and passage may be associated with rapid and significant changes in the strength and direction of the winds aloft and on the surface.
  2. On calm, hot, humid days, thunderstorms can spontaneously generate and move in unpredictable patterns.
  3. Dust devils are mini-tornados that spontaneously generate on days of high thermal convection activity.
  4. Where to get practical information on approaching weather:
    1. the Weather Channel
    2. www.weather.com
    3. TV weathercasts
    4. pilot assistance (legally responsible to know the weather conditions before flight)
    5. continuous observation

C. Density altitude

  1. Parachute performance is measured at sea level in moderate temperatures and humidity.
  2. Altitude, heat, and humidity influence the density of air
  3. Density altitude is a measure of air density that is calculated according to the temperature and altitude.
  4. As density altitude increases, airspeed increases by:
    1. almost five percent per 3,000 feet up to 12,000 feet MSL
    2. more than five percent per 3,000 feet above 12,000 feet MSL
  5. As density altitude increases, a ram-air canopy pilot can expect the following:
    1. a higher stall speed
    2. a faster forward speed
    3. a faster descent rate
    4. higher opening forces
  6. Additionally, aircraft are affected by higher density altitude in the following ways:
    1. longer distances required for takeoff and landing
    2. reduced propeller effectiveness
    3. poorer turbine and piston engine performance
    4. slower and flatter rate of climb
    5. less useful load
  7. The aircraft pilot is responsible to know the density altitude prior to takeoff, and skydivers are advised to consider the effects of density altitude on canopy performance.

5-6 Aircraft

  1. Skydivers play a more integral role in aircraft operations than ordinary passengers, because their procedures can dramatically affect the controllability of the aircraft, particularly during exit.
    1. Parasitic drag reduces airspeed necessary for flight and reduces the effectiveness of control surfaces.
    2. Excess weight in the rear of the aircraft can cause the pilot to lose control of the aircraft and cause it to stall.
  2. All jumpers should be briefed by a jump pilot on the topics outlined in Aircraft Briefing from Category E of the USPA Integrated Student Program (SIM Section 4).
  3. The smallest aircraft to be used for student jumping should be able to carry the pilot and at least three jumpers.
  4. High openings
    1. The pilot and all jumpers on board the aircraft should be informed in advance whenever an opening is planned to be above the normal opening altitude (generally 5,000 feet AGL and lower).
    2. When more than one aircraft is being used, the pilots of each aircraft in flight at the time of the jump should be notified.
  5. Aircraft fueling
    1. Aircraft fueling operations should occur away from skydiver landing and loading areas, and no person, except the pilot and necessary fueling crew, should be aboard the aircraft during fueling.
    2. USPA accepts the practice of rapid refueling (fueling an aircraft while an engine is running) for certain turbine-powered aircraft when performed in accordance with the guidelines of Parachute Industry Association Technical Standard, TS-122.
  6. Entering the aircraft
    1. Students should never approach an aircraft, whether the engine is running or not, unless they are under the direct supervision of a USPA instructional rating holder.
    2. Everyone should always approach a fixed-wing aircraft from behind the wing and always approach a helicopter from the front or the side, only after making eye contact with the pilot.
    3. Everyone should always protect his or her ripcord handles while entering the aircraft and follow procedures to avoid the accidental activation of any equipment.
  7. Everyone on board the aircraft is subject to the seating requirements found in FAR 91.107 and the parachute requirements found in FAR 91.307.
  8. Ride to altitude
    1. Everyone should have a thorough understanding and be prepared to take the appropriate actions in the event of an accidental activation of parachute equipment in the aircraft.
    2. Seat belts should remain fastened and all hard helmets and other potential projectiles secured until the pilot notifies the jumpers that they may unfasten them.
    3. Students should sit still and move only when specifically directed to do so by their instructor(s) or coach.
    4. Seating arrangements should be determined in advance and will vary according to the particular aircraft and the size and type of the load.
    5. It is important for the load to be properly distributed in the aircraft to maintain the balance in relation to the center of gravity, which is necessary for the aircraft to fly safely.
    6. The jumpers must cooperate fully with the pilot to keep the aircraft within its safe performance envelope throughout the entire flight.
    7. The aircraft must not be loaded with more weight than the maximum allowed in the manufacturer’s operating manual.
    8. Failure to maintain proper weight and balance throughout the flight may result in loss of control of the aircraft.
  9. When not in use, seat belts should be stowed out of the way but never fastened together unless being worn.
  10. All pilots and other occupants of a jump aircraft must wear parachutes when required by the FAA.

5-7 Spotting

A. Why spotting is important

  1. Choosing the correct exit point and guiding the pilot to it (spotting) helps fulfill each skydiver’s responsibility to land in an appropriate clear area.
  2. Jumpers must demonstrate basic spotting abilities prior to obtaining the USPA A license.
  3. Spotting in more difficult circumstances requires continued practice and study.
  4. In addition to considerations for getting one jumper or group out of the aircraft at the correct point, spotters must consider the correct exit points for multiple individuals or groups on the same pass from a larger aircraft.

B. Priorities

  1. Be familiar with the DZ and surrounding area, including exit and opening points.
    1. Jumpers should observe and talk to those on previous jumps to help determine the correct jump-run direction and exit and opening point.
    2. Methods for estimating the exit and opening point based on winds-aloft forecasts are explained in the Aircraft and Spotting sections of Categories F and G of the Integrated Student Program, Section 4 of this manual.
    3. A wind-drift indicator (WDI) is effective for determining drift under canopy.
      1. A piece of weighted crepe paper is released at canopy opening altitude over an observed position or at half of the opening altitude so the ground travel will be doubled for the jump.
      2. The jumpers aboard the aircraft observe the drift of the WDI to determine the distance and direction of the best opening point upwind of the target.
      3. Jumpers should be responsible for wind drift indicators after they land.
      4. Observation and calculation of the spot from the winds-aloft report have replaced the WDI for most routine drop zone operations.
  2. Look out of the aircraft­:
    1. for traffic below
    2. for clouds
    3. to spot
  3. Identify the DZ, the climbout point, and the exit point from the open door of the aircraft.
  4. Techniques for determining the point straight below the aircraft are discussed in Category D of the ISP.

C. Group separation on jump run

  1. Slower-falling jumpers and groups are exposed to upper headwinds longer and are blown farther downwind than faster-falling jumpers and groups.
    1. Slower-falling groups should exit before faster-falling groups if jump run is flown into the wind.
    2. On days with strong upper headwinds, allow more time between groups on the same pass to get sufficient horizontal separation over the ground.
      1. Provide at least 1,000 feet of ground separation between individuals jumping solo.
      2. Provide at least 1,500 feet of ground separation between small groups, adding more as size of the groups increases.
    3. Once the parachute has opened, delay flying up or down the line of flight until—
      1. Any slower-falling group that exited before has opened their parachutes and turned toward the landing area.
      2. The group exiting after has completed their freefall and opened.
  2. Flying jump run across the upper winds (crosswind) helps achieve separation between groups.
  3. Whether flying one or more aircraft, each pass should allow enough time for jumpers on a previous pass to descend to a safe altitude before dropping jumpers from the next pass.

D. Exit and Flight Plan Considerations for Different Disciplines

  1. Larger jump aircraft may include several different groups of skydivers performing different disciplines, some of which use more airspace than others.
    1. Formation skydivers falling in a belly-to-earth orientation.
    2. Freeflying formations falling in head-down, standing or sitting formations.
    3. Freefall students with instructors.
    4. Tandem students and instructors.
    5. Tracking groups
    6. Angle flying groups
    7. Wingsuit flyers.
  2. Some of these groups will tend to descend straight down after exit, drifting horizontally with the effects of wind, but otherwise not moving much in the airspace.
  3. These groups include formation skydivers, freeflyers, solo students and tandem students, and they gain adequate separation from one another by waiting the appropriate length of time between groups before exiting the airplane.
  4. Tracking groups, angle flying groups, and wingsuiters will cover large horizontal distances that must be taken into account when planning a descent strategy.
    1. These groups must fly a specific flight path planned before boarding the aircraft.
    2. Exiting last is the most common exit order for tracking groups, angle flyers and wingsuiters.
    3. Immediately after exit, the group needs to fly perpendicular to the jump run to provide lateral separation from the other groups on the aircraft.
    4. After gaining sufficient lateral distance, the group may then turn in a downwind direction, flying parallel to the other groups that exited earlier.
    5. The jumper leading this type of group must keep the group flying in the planned direction for the entire freefall distance, maintaining adequate lateral separation.
    6. The break-off point must be far enough laterally to allow for these jumpers to gain horizontal separation from each other as well as any of the groups that exited the airplane earlier.
    7. Airplane loads that include more than one group of tracking groups, angle flyers or wingsuiters will add additional complexity to the airspace requirements necessary to allow each group to open in a clear area.
    8. Depending on the situation, it may be safer to restrict each airplane load to only one group of tracking jumpers, angle flyers or wingsuiters.