Published: August 16, 2016
*United States Parachute Association Membership #183891
*D License # D-27500
Recently, I had the honor of interviewing professional skydiver, Katie Hawkins. In a sport that's mostly male dominate, 36 year old Katie has made over 4500 skydives since beginning her career in 2002. She holds ratings with the United States Parachute Association as both an Accelerated Freefall Instructor and Coach. I wanted to know what drives a woman who is so passionate about jumping out of a perfectly good airplane and was given the opportunity to ask her about the career she's chosen.
Q. Why do you skydive?
A. The reason I skydive is that I feel complete in the sky. It's my place of Zen. I also jump because of the skydiving community. I've found that the people who skydive are a rare breed of humans who I deeply appreciate. They accepted me from day one for who I am. For I too am a rare breed of human.
Q. How long had you dreamed about making a skydive before actually doing it?
A. As a child I would put myself to sleep by imaging that I was falling through a never ending sky with beautiful puffy clouds on my back. So, I guess I've been dreaming of skydiving as long as I can remember. Sara Wilkinson has an art piece in her Spirit Series called "Letting Go" which describes perfectly what I used to envision as a little girl.
Q. What made you decide to make your first tandem and what was the experience like?
A. I was 22 years old and had just gotten out of a bad relationship. I'd wanted to make a skydive long before before that, but the person I had been dating was dead set against it. After we split up, I told myself that it was finally time to do it! Making that first jump was a way of freeing myself from the whole situation. The first tandem I did was unforgettable for so many reasons. The original plan was to go with two of my friends, but we had gotten weathered out twice before the actual jump. Finally, a day came where the skies were clear, but my friends were unable to make it. Despite their absence, I was determined and headed to the drop zone by myself. I remember the addictive quality of wanting to defeat fear and embrace what was on the other side. The feeling of freedom when leaving the door of an airplane in flight and falling through the sky was an amazing experience. It was as though I'd just found a secret pathway which lead me to the meaning of life. By the time we had landed, I knew the sky was where I belonged. It may sound cheesy, but that first skydive was the key to fulfilling the missing piece of my soul. It was to set me in the right direction on my own person journey. Everything about it was a positive experience. After my first tandem I made the decision to go through the Accelerated Freefall Program (AFF). There was nothing holding me back and the sky was calling to my soul. As a bonus, there was a guy who I started falling for that was a skydiver at the drop zone.
Q. What has been your most memorable jump to date?
A. I have two. The first is definitely a 2-way head down night jump made with Nate Gilbert. It was my second night jump ever! The moon was full and the skies were clear. The air was so silent that we spoke to each other in freefall. He told me to look at the moon with a smile on his face. I replied how beautiful it was. Then we took a moment to kiss one another before break-off.
The second most memorable jump was in 2005 during the women's vertical world record at Skydive Chicago. It was the last day of attempts and first jump of that day. The energy was of another world. Every girl on that skydive came down either crying or shaking and just awe stuck. The record was not made on that jump, but we all came down knowing the energy that flowed through us all in the sky was more than just our own. It from divine powers beyond us and was intense to say the least.
Q. If you could skydive with anyone who would you choose?
A. My children, when they come of age. I want to be a part of the experience if they decide to try it.
Q. What would be your "dream skydive"?
A. I think right now, in my career, I'd have to say being on an RW World Record. I started out as a freeflyer, but am really enjoying RW right now and would love to achieve a world record as a belly flier.
Q. What is your favorite part of the sport?
A. Eager to learn newbies!! Adults so eager to learn and experience the amazing energy of the sky, if as beautiful as children grasping morsels of knowledge in school! And there is ALWAYS room to learn in this sport.
Q. What is your favorite discipline in skydiving?
A. Swooping! Deploying my canopy is as if I've just freed an extension of my body. Then, to control my wing at high speeds close to the ground... nothing compares to it for me. It's my absolute freedom.
Q. What other hobbies and things do you enjoy outside of the sport?
A. I enjoy being with my children and anything to do with them! Curling up with them after a long day. Snuggling my snuggle-bugs is my all-time favorite thing in the world. I love to run and goto the gym as well. Physical activity keeps me balanced and happy!
Katie Hawkins is just one of our amazing staff members at Midwest Freefalll Sport Parachute Club. She works with us as a Coach, Accelerated Freefall instructor and Videographer. We hope that her story will inspire you to follow your dreams.
Interviewed & Written by:
Christina Kase (Cox)
I'm 63 and a jump was on my bucket list. Everyone at Midwest treated me like I was the Hope diamond. There are no words to describe the adventure of a tandem jump...
» Nancy Marzolino