Katie Hansen, D-29694, is a badass skydiver who can pretty much do it all. She can carve up the sky in freefall, in a wingsuit and under canopy. She’s an AFF and tandem instructor, holds a PRO rating and is a world-record holder in head-up and head-down flying. And when she isn’t in the sky, she is helping society as a registered nurse.
Birthplace: Portland, Oregon
Marital Status: Engaged
Occupation: Skydiver, registered nurse
Education: Bachelor of science in nursing from California State University Sacramento
Pet Peeves: People trying to talk seriously about anything skydiving related late at night after drinks or around the fire. Oh, and TSA!
Pre-Jump Superstitions: The only kinda weird thing I have is that I like chewing gum but I hate actually jumping with it. I’m afraid I’ll aspirate and no one would figure out why I wasn’t moving because everyone would assume I was physically injured instead.
Would you rather swoop or land on an accuracy tuffet? Accuracy tuffets should be taken away so people can’t stall their parachutes in and call it a “landing,” or else up the ante by surrounding it with razor wire.
Jump Philosophy: Live to jump another day and have fun.
Sponsors: Airtec, Cookie Helmets, Fuse Lenses, Larsen & Brusgaard, LiquidSky Sports, NZ Aerosports, Squirrel and Velocity Sports Equipment
Container: Velocity Sports Equipment Infinity
Main Canopy: NZ Aerosports Leia 66, Squirrel Epicene Pro 116
Reserve Canopy: Performance Designs PDR 113
AAD: Airtec C-Mode CYPRES 2
Disciplines: Freefly, wingsuit, swooping
Home Drop Zone: Skydive Perris in California
First Jump: A static-line. My dad and I did our first jumps together in 2003 the day before I graduated high school.
USPA Licenses and Ratings: A-45126, B-26900, D-29694, PRO, AFF and Tandem Instructor, Coach
Medals and Records: 164-way Fédération Aéronautique Internationale World Record for Largest Head-Down Formation Skydive, 72-way FAI World Record for Largest Head-Up Formation Skydive, gold in canopy piloting advanced class at the 2014 USPA Nationals
Total Number of Jumps: 6,750
Freefly: 2,700 Wingsuit: 2,000 Camera: 1,500 FS: 500 CF: 50 BASE: 850
Largest Completed Formation: 164-way
Total Number of Cutaways: Eight
What do you like most about the sport? The community of people. The best way I can describe it is that there are a lot of incredible people in the world dispersed throughout the general population. Skydiving is like a huge sifter, and if you put the whole general population into it and sifted out all the rad ones, they all come together at the drop zone. I also love the diversity and open-mindedness that comes from being exposed to such an interesting population of colorful people.
What do you like least about the sport? Drop zone drama.
What safety item do you think is most often neglected? I think breakoff planning is fairly neglected, especially in wingsuiting. It’s a critical piece of the skydive in terms of safety.
Do you have any suggestions for students? Have fun and enjoy the progression. When you see the people jumping that you look up to skill-wise, what you don’t see is all the training, all the fails, all the exploded jumps and all the laughs with friends between where you are and where they are. Keep smiling.
If you could do a fantasy 2-way with anybody, whom would it be with? I would really like to skydive with my big brother. I’ve always looked up to him, and he is good at everything.
What kind of skydiving student were you? I was pretty natural with the basics, but we all have our strengths and weaknesses.
Is there one jump you would like to do again? My last jump at the 2017 Red Bull Aces [wingsuit] race. I got disqualified for a false start. There were four of us standing on the skids of the Huey and the start alarm was hard to hear. One of the other competitors left early, and I didn’t know whether he jumped the gun or whether I didn’t hear it. I had to make a quick call; I didn’t want to hesitate. I’m not really sure I would have made a different call in the same situation. I went for it, but man …
On the other hand, life is good, no real regrets.
What was your greatest competition moment? Winning CP Nationals in 2014 in the advanced class was pretty awesome. It was my second meet ever, and I chose not to wear a weight belt because of a lower back fusion (motorcycle-related, not skydiving). I flew really well and was proud of myself. My goal was to score every round, and I did. The beauty about competition is that no matter what you are capable of, you have to bring it on competition day. I’ve had plenty of heartbreaking competition moments, but that day everything came together really well.
What drives your competitive spirit? It’s internal, it’s just there and always has been.
You have done some impressive stunts over the years, including swooping into a moving car for a TV program. What is your best bonfire story?
Man, I really try not to talk about things I’ve done at the bonfire. I’d way rather hear about other people’s backgrounds or where they come from or what their goals are. I wasn’t even supposed to swoop into the car; I was there to do the wingsuit flying for XRW. We were all sitting on a weather hold and J.C. Colclasure came into the hangar and told us he put us all on a load. I was like, “Wait … what? All of us?” He took me aside with a hand on my shoulder and calmly looked down at me and said, “Just come to me, baby girl, I’ll catch you.”
Can you describe the feeling of setting a world record? F***ing stoked! You can’t just describe the end result with any clarity without painting the rollercoaster-emotional, intense, long days before it. The build up, the teamwork, the work … there is so much heart that goes into it beforehand that when you finally get it, the payout is huge. It’s such a special feeling to share that with the people you just achieved it with.