Photo by Mike McGowan.
Niklas Hemlin’s skydiving career began in 1994 at Gothenburg Parachute Club in Sweden, and it didn’t take him long to discover a love for formation skydiving. His drive to seek out advice from the best jumpers in the sport eventually led to him becoming one himself, first as a Swedish national champion, then a USPA national champion and finally, in 2012 with Arizona Airspeed, a world champion. In 2022, he returned to the top of the world podium with Airspeed—this time as its captain. Hemlin’s career up to now has been a testament to the wealth of available knowledge in the skydiving community when one makes the effort to seek it out.
“When we started Airspeed, we never could’ve imagined it would last for 30 years. The team has been through dozens of teammates and many world champions. Niklas is the man who bridges the original team with the future. I remember him as a young competitor from Sweden contacting me to ask my secrets to flying inside center. I knew he was champion material then, and he has continued to prove that ever since. Airspeed has a bright future because of his leadership.” –Dan Brodsky-Chenfeld, Parachutist profilee #114
Nickname: Oivy (a play-off of my middle name, Oivind)
Birthplace: Gothenburg, Sweden
Marital Status: Girlfriend
Children: Four—Branden, Torsten, Natalie and Mattias
Pets: Tootsie, a Shihtzu-Pomeranian mix
Pet Peeves: Laziness
Hobbies: Hiking, biking and freeflying in the tunnel
Favorite Food: Sushi
Rock, Rap or Country? Podcasts focusing on life and health
Life Philosophy: Be genuine and honest and always own your behavior.
Neat packer or a trash packer?It doesn’t matter as long as it opens on heading.
Jump Philosophy: Every jump counts—be safe and have fun.
Sponsors: Advanced Aerospace Designs Vigil, Cookie Helmets, Firebird, Larsen & Brusgaard, Para-Gear Equipment Co., Performance Designs, Skydive Arizona, SkyVenture Arizona and TonySuits
Container: Firebird EVO
Main Canopy: Performance Designs Valkyrie 79
Reserve Canopy: PD Optimum 106
AAD: Vigil Cuatro
Home Drop Zone: Skydive Arizona
Year of First Jump: 1994, Gothenburg Parachute Club (GFK)
Total Number of Jumps: 24,500 FS: 20,000-plus
Total Number of Cutaways: 17-plus
Most people don’t know this about me:
One time I tried to quit skydiving and had a corporate job—big mistake!
Does one jump stand out most?
Round 10 of the 2012 World Skydiving Championships. The connection to my teammates on the airplane ride up to altitude, the home run of a skydive and the feeling of everything coming together in the performance of a lifetime.
How do national championships compare to world championships?
For some reason a competitive U.S. Nationals has always been more nerve-wracking than a competitive world meet. There’s something very honorable about earning the nomination.
What do you enjoy most about being a member of Arizona Airspeed?
A sense of purpose and being part of something bigger than myself.
How long do you plan on skydiving?
I’m a lifer.
What do you like most about the sport?
The community and the nature of jumping out of airplanes. Flying your body as you tumble towards the earth is just amazing to me.
Who have been your skydiving mentors?
All of the original Arizona Airspeed have been my role models, and my mentors have been past and current team members.
What are your future skydiving goals?
To win three more world meets. Meanwhile, paying it forward by sharing all I’ve learned to help build the next generation.
What safety item do you think is most important?
A calm and collected mindset, and always being aware.
How did you become interested in skydiving?
I had a coach in junior sports that got me jumping, and then meeting Jack Jefferies and Craig Girard as a young skydiver solidified the idea that I could do this full time and make a living off it.
Any suggestions for students?
Play, have fun and stay safe doing it.
What’s the most bad-ass thing you can do in the air?
Land safe and sound so I can do it all over again.
What is your favorite jump plane?
Anything you can jump out of.
Someday I am going to own:
Peace of mind.
The toughest thing to do in skydiving is:
Maintain a life balance, pursuing your passion yet working to make money.
While in freefall, what has been your strangest thought?
“Well, that guy will never be invited to my event again.”
Suggestions for USPA:
You guys are doing a great job.
Best skydiving moment?
The first skydive back after I’ve been in the tunnel for two to three months, and all the reasons why we skydive come rushing back.
What is your perfect day like?
Sunday brunch with my girlfriend, Michelle, and taking our puppy on a hike with my kids. Then a nap!
What do you think the future of FS holds?
I would like to see us capture a younger demographic and in doing so, we get people involved early on in the tunnel and then transition them into jumpers.
Explain Niklas Hemlin in five words or fewer:
Driven, focused, competitive, athletic
What do you consider your most significant life achievement?
Continuing to grow as a human being and being of service to the people in my life.