I think it is about time for me to introduce you to another badass. The core concept of the Photo Interview series is simple: We take badass people, have a few cocktails, snap a few photos and have a quick interview designed to showcase who they are as a person, and not only focus only on their skydiving resume. Fear not, my extreme-sports loving friends—we will talk about skydiving, BASE jumping, speedflying and all sorts of things to satisfy your need for speed, but I hope to give you more than just that. I hope to give you a glimpse of the featured badass as they are as your fellow human being, friend and lover of nylon and blue sky.
This time around we have a young lady whom you may have seen in videos swooping into moving cars, doing Mr. Bill-to-wingsuit rodeo transfers, XRW, wingsuit BASE, winning national swoop competitions and too many other amazing things to even try to list here. I’ve really enjoyed getting to know her and following her adventures, and I think you will enjoy getting to know her too. Ladies and gents, I present to you Miss Katie Hansen.
Zach: Where are you from? How did you get from there to here?
Katie: I was born in Portland, Oregon, and have lived in NorCal for the last nine years, but I consider Gig Harbor, Washington, my hometown. It’s where I grew up and went to high school. I still have family in that area and love going up there to visit.
Not that it would be wise, but what is the best way to really piss you off?
Waste my time.
Outside of skydiving and the tunnel, what do you do for fun?
Speed flying. I love going wine tasting and [doing] yoga. I stay pretty busy.
A girl has to eat! How do you bring home the bacon?
A combination of skydiving and nursing. For the last few years I’ve worked on-call nursing which leaves me free to pursue skydiving full time and fill in the down time with nursing.
Did you always want to work in the skydiving industry?
Not really, it just kind of happened. I always wanted to be a skydiver, and while I was in nursing school I needed some extra cash to keep fun jumping so I started packing. I saw the video guys making more money than me and getting to fly more so I bought some cameras and it just snowballed from there.
What do you suck at?
I can’t whistle a tune to save my life.
What accomplishment, skydiving or outside of the sport, are you the most proud of?
Probably my [Bachelor of Science in nursing degree] from [California State University], Sacramento.
What is your drink of choice?
I like good wines, especially red. IPAs, pilsners for beer, and for cocktails my dad makes the best whiskey sour of all time.
Anything you can’t stand to drink?
Nothing comes to mind.
Would you consider yourself an extrovert?
Sometimes, but I like the balance of personal time too.
Do you like to cook? If so, what’s your best meal?
Yes! I love to cook, my mom taught me. She and my aunt have a cookbook that is my go-to called “Sisters in the Kitchen.” My cousin and I are making a second edition called “Cousins in the Kitchen.” Lately I’ve been roasting a lot of chickens, but I make a great jambalaya.
If someone was trying to impress you with a meal, what should they prepare?
I always appreciate home-cooked meals. I’d say to really impress me, having side dishes that took some time to prepare is a good way; it takes extra effort.
One common theme when I interview badass people is how fit they are. What is your trick?
I go to an amazing yoga studio and have started incorporating some resistance training and circuit training into my routine. I push myself a lot harder when an instructor is standing there, and it helps my mind stay focused.
Is there anything you won’t eat?
I’m allergic to milk products.
What might be something people would be surprised to know you do well?
Whose ass can you kick?
Jhonathan Florez. [editor’s note: This interview was published just before Jhonathan’s fatal accident. Our condolences to Katie and all Jhonathan’s family and friends.]
Who do you look up to?
My parents. They have always been role models. They are happily married going on 40 years, raised three successful kids and have always been there for me whether I need advice, a friend or to be put back in line.
Do you consider yourself a generally happy person?
What makes your heart race?
Wingsuit BASE jumping and big competitions.
Are you well-traveled?
Pretty well, there are always more places to go though. There is no way I could name a favorite but I loved Baffin Island, Prague, Australia, Rio de Janeiro, Voss, and going home to the Northwest, Puget Sound. Next up is Lauterbrunnen then Voss again.
Talk to me about music.
I like hip-hop and dance music.
Are there any other daredevils in your family? What do they think about you jumping?
My dad has always ridden motorcycles, and we did our first jumps together (static-line in 2003). My brother has about 70 skydives. He doesn’t jump anymore but he races cars and is a badass. Everyone is all right with my jumping now; it has been long enough they accept it. I know they still worry sometimes though if I’m BASE jumping.
If you could only listen to one band, who would it be?
Do you have any prized possessions?
My Petra 66.
You have achieved significant accomplishments in skydiving and BASE jumping; what is next on your list?
Next on the list for BASE is the World Wingsuit League race in Voss during Ekstremsportveko then hopefully on to China later this year. For skydiving I am really excited for the vertical world record this summer.
When you first started jumping, were you a natural or did you struggle?
If I had to just pick one or the other I’d say natural but I’m still learning.
What are the best and worst things about being a female skydiver?
Well, everyone is super nice to you, and the community of women in skydiving is so awesome. Obviously it’s a male-dominated sport though, and sometimes it gets old hanging out with guys all the time.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
Good question. I’m not sure. Maybe still in NorCal, maybe not. I’d like to live somewhere with more growth opportunity for tunnel flying and a bigger drop zone.
Do you think you will ever settle down, and start a family?
I hope I’ll have a family someday. I don’t want to ever stop skydiving, but I don’t think I’ll BASE jump once I have kids though. Ben and Melissa Lowe are pretty inspiring with their jumping and parenting.
If you could never jump or fly again, what would be the next sport or hobby you would dominate?
I would start playing soccer again. I played competitively my whole life and even into adulthood. I’m not sure it’s cheating on the question but I’d speedfly a lot more.
Any causes or charities you are passionate about?
I’m not really involved, but I do like the Always campaign #LikeAGirl that teaches young girls that the phrase, “like a girl” should mean nothing but grace, confidence and trying your hardest.
What store could you spend your whole paycheck in?
Lululemon. I love everything in there and it’s way too expensive, but it looks so good and the fabrics are so soft.
What scares you?
Have you had any close calls or injuries?
Actual close calls, I’d say three: one skydiving, one BASE jumping and one on a motorcycle. A car didn’t see me and turned in front of me. I broke my left scapula, a bunch of ribs, collapsed my lung, ripped my knee open through the joint, and fractured C7, T1, T2, T3, T5, T8, T9 and L3.
What non-skydiving life event has had the biggest impact on who you are today?
I don’t think there is really one event that has shaped me. Having great parents, a loving family and growing up playing sports have all helped shape who I am. The biggest single event that has impacted my life was the motorcycle accident I was in, but all it did was test the resolve that was already within and prove what a great support network and amazing people I had in my life already.
What did it feel like the first time you stepped off a cliff with a wingsuit on?
It was incredible. I got to do my first wingsuit BASE jump up on Baffin Island off a cliff called Kiguti. The 2008 expedition I was on was what really inspired me to get back into skydiving and learn to fly wingsuits. Two years later I was standing on that same cliff with a wingsuit on. It was scary and exhilarating.
Teacher’s pet or class clown? Teacher’s pet.
Coffee or tea? Coffee
Physical strength or mental fortitude? Mental fortitude
Sing or dance? Dance
XRW or terrain flying? Both
Love or passion? They go together.
Beach or mountains? Beach
Vodka or whiskey? Vodka
Chocolate or caramel? Chocolate
Surf or turf? Turf
Comedy or horror? Comedy
Rare or well done? Rare
Milkshake or smoothie? Smoothie
Friends or family? Family
Formal or casual? Casual
Pink or Black? Black
Early bird or night owl? Both
Beauty or elegance? Elegance
Loyalty or ambition? Loyalty
[team_member image_url=”123478″ name=”Zach Lewis” role=”Photo Interviewer”]About the interviewing photographer: Zach Lewis started jumping in 1997 and flies camera for Dallas Khaos Khobalt. He enjoys jumping, taking pictures, taking pictures while jumping, and whiskey.[/team_member]
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