Setting Up Your Audible
On most audibles, there are three distinct modes:
1) Climb - which is your climb to altitude
2) High Speed - which is free fall, hence the name since you are traveling at high speed
3) Low Speed - or under canopy
For "Climb," the first alarm I set at 1000 feet is the seat belt alarm which reminds me of three
1) First, the alarm reminds me to take my seat belt off, and
2) that altitude is ALSO the altitude I would bail out of the plane in an aircraft emergency and go
straight to my reserve handle (left handle). Usually, this altitude is 1000 feet, and at some
dropzones, it's 1500 feet. However, I don't care what the dropzone says; if there is engine failure
or a scenario where the plane stalls at 1000 feet, I am getting out of the aircraft on my reserve
canopy at 1000 feet.
3) Thirdly, it reminds me to do my checks of three: check all three straps (one chest and two leg
straps) and three handles (main BOC handle, cutaway, and reserve) and make sure they are
correctly seated and adjusted and to check both right and left three-ring systems to make sure
they are correctly routed and that my RSL is free, clear and attached to my riser.
The second alarm I set at 2500 feet reminds me that this is a safe and the lowest altitude where I
would get out on my main canopy. You may hear it called a "clear and pull." You clear the
aircraft's tail and immediately throw out your main pilot chute flying under your main canopy.
If your audible allows for a third or fourth alarm on "Climb." You can set it slightly below your
exit altitude depending on if you are doing a hop & pop or a full altitude skydive, so say set at
4500 feet for a 5500-foot hop & pop or set at 12,000 feet if you are going to full altitude 14,500
For "High Speed," I set the audible to 5500 feet as I personally always want to be under canopy
by 4500 feet. This allows me to find another landing area should I get a bad spot and not be able
to make it back to the DZ. It also gives me plenty of altitude to respond to an emergency if I have
to cut away.
I set another "High Speed" alarm at 3000 feet. This reminds me that if I have a hard pull or a
pilot chute hesitation or in tow, I need to seriously consider pulling my reserve handle (the left
handle) and going directly to my reserve canopy. My "hard deck" altitude is 2000 feet, which I
will not cut away ever under any circumstances at 2000 feet or below and will always pull my
reserve handle. This altitude is a personal decision and will be different for each skydiver. I tend
to be more conservative at 3000 feet because your average canopy takes anywhere from 800 to
over 1000 feet to fully open.
For "Low Speed" or under canopy alarms, I set my audible first for a decision altitude which for
me is 2500 feet. In short, the decision altitude means that you've picked out a landing area,
whether that's back to the dropzone or an open field somewhere else and that you have a level
wing overhead that you can steer, flare, and safely land. I need to know this by 2500 feet, so
that's where I set my first low-speed alarm.
I set another Low Speed alarm at 2000 feet which is my "hard deck" attitude, which is the
altitude at which or below I will only fire my reserve canopy, and under no circumstances will I
ever cut away.
If you've got room for two or three other alarms. I set mine at 1000 feet, 600 feet, and 300 feet.
These are the altitudes that I enter the downwind leg of my pattern, turn on the base leg then
come in on final. Again, these numbers are very conservative, student altitudes, but I still use
them, and they give me confidence, so why change?
I recommend to my customers the Larsen & Brusgaard line of audibles and altimeters because, in
my opinion, they are the most tested, most reliable, and most well researched on the market.
They are also serviced here in the United States by SSK, which has outstanding customer
service, and in the rare event that a device needs troubleshooting, they simply replace the device
with a brand new one free of charge.
I hope this helps, and reach out to me should you have any additional questions,
Andrew Rawls, MBA
Send It Skydiving Inc.
D-40168, FAA Senior Rigger