By Brian Giboney
Dusty Hanks is a family man, four-time USPA Nationals gold medalist, world champion, world record holder and all-around good guy. Like Jason Russell and Jake Jensen, two of his teammates on 4-way vertical formation skydiving team SDC Core, he is a former motocross racer turned professional skydiver. SDC Core successfully defended its 4-way VFS national championship at the 2017 USPA Nationals and will represent the U.S. at the world championships in 2018.
Birthplace: Bonners Ferry, Idaho
Nationality: Native American
Marital Status: Married to Holly Hanks
Children: Aidan Hanks (14), Cole Hanks (10), Kayla Hanks (7)
Occupation: Lead instructor trainer at iFLY Utah
Education: High school
Life Philosophy: Live life to the fullest every day
Jump Philosophy: Stay humble, have fun, stay safe, share memories
Team Name: SDC Core
Sponsors: Airtec; Cookie Helmets; iFLY Utah; Kryptek; Lady Luck Rigging; Larsen & Brusgaard; Performance Designs; Rockwell Watches; Skydive Chicago in Ottawa, Illinois; Skydive Sebastian in Florida; United Parachute Technologies; Vertical Suits
Container: United Parachute Technologies Vector
Main Canopy: Performance Designs Valkyrie 75
Reserve Canopy: Performance Designs Optimum 126
AAD: Airtec CYPRES 2
Disciplines: 4-way VFS and freeflying, learning wingsuit flying
Home Drop Zone: Skydive Chicago in Ottawa, Illinois
First Jump: AFF in 1994
Licenses and Ratings: B-18332, D-18969, PRO
Championships and Records: 2015-2017 USPA Nationals—gold in 4-way open VFS; 2016 Féderátion Aéronautique Internationale World Parachuting Championships Mondial—gold in 4-way VFS; 2010 USPA Nationals—gold in 4-way advanced VFS; 2016 FAI Head-Up World Record 72-way; 2014 FAI Head-Up World Record 52-way; 2015 FAI Head-Down World Record 164-way; 2014 California State Head-Down Record 64-way; 2014 FAI Two-Point Head-Down World Record 57-way; 2014 FAI Three-Point Head-Down World Record 33-way; 2014 FAI Four-Point Head-Down World Record 33-way; 2012 FAI Head-Down World Record 138-way; 2009 FAI Head-Down World Record 108-way
Total Number of Jumps: 10,500-plus
Freefly: 4,400-plus Tandem: 3,000-plus
Camera: 1,400-plus FS: 1,200-plus Demos: 450-plus Wingsuit: 25 Balloon: 14 BASE: 500-plus
Largest Completed Formation: 164-way head-down world record at Skydive Chicago in 2015
Total Number of Cutaways: 14
What was your canopy progression?
Slow and conservative. I took my time downsizing. Each new canopy I wanted to learn to fly it to its full potential before downsizing again.
Most people don't know this about me:
I met my wife taking her on her first tandem skydive. She tipped me a $20 bill with her phone number on it. I called her up and we went out a few times. We were married five months after we met.
Of all of your skydives, does one stand out most?
Round 8 at the 2016 Mondial at Skydive Chicago. Landing as a team, we knew we had secured the lead and won the world championship in 4-way VFS.
What do you like most about the sport?
There is always something new to learn!
What do you like least about the sport?
Seeing accidents that could be prevented.
Who have been your skydiving mentors?
Bill “MX” Halsey, Travis Fienhage, Andy Malchiodi, Jason Russell
What are your future skydiving goals?
SDC Core (representing the USA) will be headed to Australia for the 2018 Mondial World Skydiving Championships in 4-way VFS. SDC Core will also be busy this year holding tryouts for the head-down world record scheduled for August 2018 at Skydive Chicago. Learn to fly my Freak2 [wingsuit] like Jesse Hall!
What safety item do you think is most often neglected?
Proper separation between groups.
How did you become interested in skydiving?
I raced motocross and skied all through my youth, and I just knew that once I turned 18, I would start skydiving.
Do you have any suggestions for students?
Utilize wind tunnels and canopy courses. Stay humble and never be afraid to ask questions.
If you could do a fantasy 2-way with anybody, whom would it be with and where would it take place?
With one of my boys, Aidan or Cole. I enjoy flying with my boys in the wind tunnel and cannot wait for the day I get to skydive with them! Doesn’t matter where, just matters that I will get to share that with my boys.
The toughest thing to do in the sport of skydiving is:
Explain how amazing it is to people who have never made a skydive.
What kind of skydiving student were you, the typical flailer or a complete natural?
I would like to think I was a complete natural. I was eager to jump more and learn all I could about skydiving.
What do you consider your most significant life achievement?
Being married to Holly Hanks and raising our three wonderful kids.
What has been your strangest thought while skydiving?
I opened my canopy after one of the night head-down world record attempts in major spinning line twists, and I had no idea which way was up or down. After cutting away and getting my reserve out, I thought to myself, “How in a million years will we ever find the main canopy?” (It was never found.)
What has been your best skydiving moment?
Flying into the Stadium of Fire event in 2017 at the Brigham Young University Stadium [in Provo, Utah] to start the 4th of July fireworks show with my good friends Jesse Hall, Marshall Miller, Kai Kai Buchholz and Jake Jensen! Nailed it!
What has been your greatest competition moment?
Round seven at the 2016 Mondial at Skydive Chicago. It was a very technical skydive, and our team crushed it!
What has been your weirdest skydiving moment?
Getting paid to take the A-List Bikini Team girls on tandem skydives into a charity event … with my wife as ground crew.
What drives your competitive spirit?
I've always been competitive, and I think the mental and physical training that is required to excel is some of what makes me do it. I also think that having a goal and purpose keeps me excited to skydive even after more than 20 years of jumping.
What is your motivation for continuing to compete in VFS?
VFS is one of the most difficult disciplines in skydiving. Even with all of the achievements I have, there is so much room for improvement, which is very motivating. I also love it and want to do whatever I can to watch the discipline grow.
What is the future of VFS competition?
Hopefully, we can introduce a slightly easier all-head-down category so that people don't get discouraged when they first start. If competitions can have more categories of VFS like they do FS, I think there will be more teams.
What’s the best thing about competing in national and world VFS events?
Testing yourself against other people who have made similar sacrifices and dedication to VFS is the only way to get yourself to peak performance.
Explain Dusty Hanks in five words or fewer.
Family, determined, focused, stubborn, motivated.