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Introduction
Section 1: USPA
Section 2: BSRs
Section 3: Classification

Section 4: ISP

CAT A

CAT B

CAT C

CAT D

CAT E

CAT F

CAT G

CAT H

Section 5: General
Section 6: Advanced
Section 7: PRO
Section 8: Awards
Section 9: FAA Documents
Glossary & Appendices

 






 

Category D

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

Introduction

AFF

  • two jumps

IAD-STATIC LINE

  • four jumps

RECOMMENDED MINIMUM DEPLOYMENT

  • 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

The USPA Tandem program terminates after Category C. All former tandem students may continue in the AFF program, or the remainder of the USPA IAD or static-line progression.

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).

Students transferring from the IAD or static-line program to the AFF program need to be briefed on linked exit procedures and freefall communications (hand signals) and be prepared for longer freefalls and frequent altimeter checks.


Category at a Glance

Advancement Criteria

Exit and Freefall

AFF Students

  • stability within five seconds after an unassisted poised exit

All Students

  • cumulative four 90-degree turns, 20-degree tolerance
  • cumulative two 180-degree and two 360-degree turns, 45-degree tolerance
Canopy
  • cumulative two 90-degree rear riser turns with brakes set
  • cumulative two 90-degree rear riser turns with brakes released
  • one 180-degree rear riser turn, and one 360-degree rear riser turn with brakes released
  • two rear riser flares above 2,000 feet
  • landing within 165 feet of the target with minimal assistance

 

Equipment
  • operate the AAD

 

Spotting and Aircraft
  • recognize and observe the airport and the spot from the aircraft door during jump run

 

oral quiz

Book Stuff

 


Academics

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.

 


CAT D dive flows

FREEFALL

play video AFF Dive Plan #1: 90-Degree Turns

  • Observe spotting from the door.
  • Exit in a relaxed arch (grip optional). Circle of Awareness.
  • Practice pull(s) (optional).
  • Altitude, arch, legs, relax.
  • Find a reference point on the horizon and determine the position of the instructor.
  • Ask permission to turn (head nod).
  • Receive reply from instructor (head nod).
  • Start a turn and stop at 90 degrees.
  • Altitude, arch, legs, relax.
  • Perform (with instructor’s permission each time) alternating 90-degree turns until 5,000 feet; initiate no turns below 6,000 feet.
  • Altitude, arch, legs, relax.
  • Wave-off at 5,000 feet.
  • Pull by 4,000 feet.

play video AFF Dive Plan #2: 180- and 360-Degree Turns

  • Observe spotting from the door.
  • Solo poised exit in a relaxed arch.
  • Circle of Awareness.
  • Practice pull(s) (optional).
  • Altitude, arch, legs, relax.
  • Find a reference point on the horizon and determine the position of the instructor.
  • Ask permission to turn (head nod).
  • Receive reply from instructor (head nod).
  • Start a turn and stop at 180 degrees.
  • Altitude, arch, legs, relax.
  • If altitude permits, turn 180 degrees back to instructor.
  • Perform (with instructor’s permission each time) alternating 360-degree turns until 5,000 feet; initiate no turns below 6,000 feet.
  • Altitude, arch, legs, relax.
  • Wave-off at 5,000 feet.
  • Pull by 4,000 feet.

 

IAD AND STATIC LINE: 90-, 180- and 360-Degree Turns

Note: Recommended are two 15-second delays, two 30-second delays, and then longer delays until the cumulative four 90-degree, two 180-degree and two 360-degree turns required have been accomplished.

  • Observe spotting from the door.
  • Exit in a relaxed arch.
  • Awareness check (ground and altimeter).
  • Practice pull (optional).
  • Altitude, arch, legs, relax.
  • Find a point on ground 45-degrees ahead and below.
  • Start and stop a turn on a planned heading:
    • 90 degrees (4)
    • 180-degrees (2)
    • 60-degrees (2)
  • Between each turn: Altitude, arch, legs, relax.
  • Repeat turns in alternating directions until 5,000 feet.
  • Altitude, arch, legs, relax.
  • Wave-off at 4,500 feet.
  • Pull by 4,000 feet.
CANOPY

play video Dive Plan #1

  • Correct minor canopy problems (line twist, slider, end cells) using rear risers with brakes set.
  • Look right, turn right 90 degrees using right rear riser.
  • Check altitude, position, and traffic.
  • Repeat to the left.
  • Check altitude, position, and traffic.
  • Release brakes, conduct control check and move to the holding area
  • Look right, turn right 90 degrees using rear risers.
  • Check altitude, position, and traffic.
  • Repeat to the left.
  • Look right, turn right 180 degrees using rear risers.
  • Check altitude, position, and traffic.
  • Repeat to the left.
  • Check altitude, position, and traffic.
  • Practice rear riser flares.
  • Return to normal controls for landing by 2,000 feet.

play video Dive Plan #2

  • Clean up (line twist, slider, end cells) canopy with brakes set.
  • Look right, turn right 90 degrees using right rear riser.
  • Check altitude, position, and traffic.
  • Repeat to the left.
  • Check altitude, position, and traffic.
  • Release brakes, conduct control check and move to the holding area
  • Perform a controllability check
  • Fly the canopy towards the holding area.
  • Look right, turn right 360 degrees using right rear riser.
  • Check altitude, position, and traffic.
  • Repeat to the left.
  • Check altitude, position, and traffic.
  • Practice rear riser flares.
  • Return to normal controls for landing by 2,000 feet.

 


Learning Spotting: One Jump at a Time

Before earning a USPA A license, you are expected to learn to spot in routine conditions. “Spotting” simply means choosing the opening point and guiding the pilot to the correct position over the ground for exit. You can calculate the spot from a winds-aloft report. FAA Flight Service provides these reports, which you can get from the pilot.

When you’re in the door before exit, spotting starts with determining exactly what’s straight down and how the plane is moving across the ground. A good spotter’s training never ends.

When you’re in the door before exit, spotting starts with determining exactly what’s straight down and how the plane is moving across the ground.

Here are some tips for beginners:

  1. Be familiar with the DZ and surrounding area, including the correct exit and opening points for the day’s conditions. The USPA Instructor will simply tell you at first and then show you how to figure it for yourself later.
  2. Look out of the aircraft, obviously done best with the door open and your head all the way outside. Small aircraft give you more opportunities to practice spotting. In larger aircraft, your instructor will arrange some door time. First, just get comfortable looking out. Put your head all the way out into the windstream.
  3. Identify the DZ, the climbout point, and exit point from the open door of the aircraft. Point them out to your instructor or coach.
  4. Look straight down, using horizon reference points. Avoid using the aircraft as a reference. On jump run, the plane is often climbing, banking, skidding, or crabbing.
  5. Determine the track of the aircraft. Once you can identify two points straight below the plane on jump run, you know the actual path of the aircraft across the ground. If you see that it will take you too far to the left or right, suggest a correction to the one supervising your jump, who will relay your corrections to the pilot.
  6. Allow enough time (distance) for your climbout and set-up to separate you from other jumpers. Learn when to climb out.

Soon, you’ll give directions to the pilot under supervision. After a while, the USPA Instructor or Coach won’t interfere unless your spotting appears unsafe.

Your spotting training will require several jumps, and the staff will log your progress. Spot as often as you can during your training as a student so you’ll feel confident later when you’re on your own.