USPA Category H Information for Student Skydivers

Exit and Freefall

Swoop and docks are simply redocks with adjusting fall rates on a grander scale (greater horizontal and vertical separation).  While performing a dive out exit, you will give the exit count and your coach will leave on “set” (to provide adequate separation), and then you will leave on “go.”  If you wait longer than a second, then the amount of separation between you and the person you’re jumping with may be too much to overcome for a successful dock.

As you dive towards your coach you will use a delta position to cover the majority of the distance separating you and your coach.  You will want to resume a neutral body position when you are approximately 10-20 feet away and then use your fast and/or slow fall rate positions to get on level with the other person.  Remember that it takes a few seconds to slow your fall rate after you resume your neutral body position.  Once on level you can then move forward to dock.

On your first swoop and dock attempt you should stop diving and regain a neutral body position when you are about halfway to your target.  You can then evaluate if you need to continue diving or if you are close enough to use a fast fall body position to get on level.   For safety, and to prevent a mid-air collision, you should always watch out for other jumpers and have an escape path in mind.

The minimum break-off altitude for experienced jumpers jumping in a familiar place with familiar equipment and people in groups of 5 or fewer is 1500’ above the highest planned deployment.   If any of those conditions are not met then you should add 500-1000’ to the break-off altitude.

While tracking, waving-off, and deploying,  you should get in the habit of looking sideways and above for jumpers in the immediate area so that you can steer clear under canopy as soon as possible.


Front riser inputs can be used to turn your parachute, maintain your position in heavy winds, catch up to another jumper under canopy, and many people think that they are fun.

You should first begin by pulling both front risers down to maintain heading.  After that you can try to pull just one riser down to initiate a turn.  However, many people report that the front riser pressure on the student canopies is such that these turns can be quite difficult.  Since front riser maneuvers are dangerous when performed close to the ground, you should only perform these maneuvers when you are above 2500’.

Procedures for recovering from a turn made too low:

  • Stop the turn and use toggle control to get the canopy back overhead (wings level)
  • Prepare for a PLF
  • Manage the speed induced by the turn (expect a longer, flatter flare)
  • Continue flying your canopy even after premature contact with the ground to reduce further injury

Emergency Procedure

If you are going to land in water you should disconnect your RSL and loosen up your chest strap on your final descent.  Prepare to PLF (you don’t know the depth of the water or if there are objects in the water), flare halfway, and then finish your flare when your feet hit the water.  If you are planning to cutaway your main parachute, wait until your feet are wet before doing so.

Flotation devices are recommended for jumpers using ram-air canopies when jumping within a mile of water.


Most cutaway cables develop a sludge-like coating that can cause them to bind and require a greater pull force.   Therefore, the 3-ring system should be disassembled every month so that the cables may be cleaned and the riser ends massaged.

Stow bands must be replaced with the appropriate sized bands when they stretch, wear, or break.  Line stow bands should grasp the line stow bights tightly, resulting in 6-11 pounds of force needed for extraction.

The main closing loop will also need to be replaced when it exhibits 10 percent or greater wear.  A worn, or too loose, closing loop can result in a premature deployment.

Spotting and Aircraft

Jump aircraft must have an operating radio for jumping to take place.  In addition, the pilot must be in touch with air traffic control prior to jumping.  Either the jumper or the pilot must notify air traffic control at least one hour, but no more than 24 hours, prior to jumping in most air space.  Some DZs have written notifications that are renewed annually for that location.

In addition, not all aircraft are safe to operate with their door open or removed.  Aircraft that are approved may require additional modifications and usually require FAA field approval.

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