Continuing on our series of origin stories from some of our favorite ladies of skydiving, we bring you the legend herself, Katie Hansen Lajeunesse.
Katie is well known for her ability to excel in multiple disciplines in skydiving. Not only is she an accomplished freeflyer and World Record holder she is also an experienced wingsuiter, BASE jumper and swooper too. Having achieved so much in the sport, we are eager to know where her skydiving journey began and how it evolved to the all-round badass she is today.
In her own words:
‘’I got into the sport when I was 18. A few years prior I had made a deal with my Dad that when I was old enough we would do our first jumps together. The day before my high school graduation we went and did static line jumps in Bremerton, WA at a little Cessna DZ that isn’t there anymore. I told them I wanted the practice ripcord on my first jump because I knew I wanted to be a skydiver and my Dad was only paying for one jump so I wanted it to count toward my progression’’
After that my progression was slow for the first few years, I was jumping weekends only at a Cessna DZ. I did find BASE jumping fairly soon after that though, and spent the next couple years mostly BASE jumping but skydiving too. I moved to CA in 2006, found more accessibility to skydiving and bigger planes. After my first expedition to Baffin Island in 2007 my interest in skydiving rekindled to learn to fly wingsuits with the goal of wingsuit BASE.
Photo credit: Mike Brewer
Things were different then, there were no first flight courses, I just walked onto the dz like I knew what I was doing and pulled out a wingsuit and proceeded to teach myself how to fly it – this is definitely not what we’d advise, there are better, much safer ways to learn now. After becoming a fairly adequate wingsuit pilot, I decided to pull my wingsuit back off and actually learn how to fly my body. I started shooting video, working full time at the dropzone and spending all my money in the wind tunnel to learn how to freefly.
This is also when I was learning how to swoop, taking canopy courses and spending time at swoop club after the work day. I did my first wingsuit BASE jump in 2010 on my third Baffin expedition, back on top of the cliff that had initially inspired it all. Over the years my focus in skydiving and BASE jumping has rotated through multiple disciplines which is part of the reason I find it easy to still be so passionate about jumping – freeflying, swooping, BASE jumping, wingsuiting, big ways, sequentials, competitions. It never ends!
Photo credit: Dennis Sattler