Special accomplishments call for special recognition, and on May 28, our very own Connie Krusi had her 12,000th tandem jump! We wanted to commemorate this event with a special interview with Connie so everyone can know why she’s so special.
Connie has been jumping for 21 years and has 17,000 skydives overall. Aside from being one of our tandem skydiving instructors, she’s also an AFF instructor and an aerial videographer. When she’s not skydiving, she enjoys camping, riding bikes, and being a grandmother. Congratulations Connie!
Give us the skinny. How old are you, where are you from?
53, I was born in Choteau, Montana. Was a military spouse for 23 years so I was from where ever I was living at the time. I consider myself from Texas now.
What were you like as a kid and do you have any siblings?
I was the youngest of 7.5 brothers and 1 sister. There was a large age gap between my oldest brother and me, 27 years. My only sister is 11 years older than me so I grew up a tomboy and had to help my dad on our farm as all the boys were grown and gone. I learned to drive at a very early age and was driving tractors when I was 10.
What did your family think of you getting into skydiving?
My parents were not really thrilled at first but warmed up to the idea when they finally came to the DZ and watched. As for the rest of my family, I have had the pleasure of taking both of my children on tandems several times, 2 of my brothers, one of my sister in-laws, her brothers, and father, and one of my nephews. Every time I would talk to my father he would ask me if I had to use the reserve parachute lately. It got so whenever I did have to use it he was the first one I would call and tell him it worked again.
What are you looking forward to this year?
Staying healthy and enjoying life in general
As the Brits would say, tell us about your “kit”. What canopy do you choose to fly, container you choose to sit in and all the rest? Insert your sponsor shoutouts!
Main Canopy: Velocity 96
Reserve: Pd 126
Altimeter: Alti 3
Jumpsuit: Purple Camo pants
Helmet: G3 and Cookie Fuel
Shoes: New Balance
The average career span for most skydivers is five years…you’ve been at this for a long time. Tell us when you made your first jump and under what circumstance did you decide to make that jump?
At some point, my sister had told me that some of her coworkers had done tandem skydives. This is something that really interested me and when we got stationed in Hawaii in 1993 it seemed like a great place to give it a try. So that is what I bought my husband for our 14th anniversary but of course it was probably more for me than him. I was hooked completely and the rest is history.
What inspired you to become a tandem instructor?
After doing my tandem I was back at the skydive facility a month later learning how to jump. As it turned out my instructor who taught me to skydive was also the one who introduced me to skydiving as my tandem instructor. I could hardly wait to get the experience needed to become a tandem instructor because I wanted everyone to experience skydiving and have as great a time as I did. I would talk about getting a tandem rating all the time with many chuckles coming from my instructors thinking I would never follow through.
Skydiving is still primarily a male-dominated sport. How did being a woman affect your path in in the sport?
I figured out early in my skydiving career that if I wanted to be a professional skydive instructor I had to be one of the guys. There was no room for exceptions because I am 5’2” and a woman. I hit a few obstacles with people not wanting to give me a chance.
What advice do you have to new women skydivers?
Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t accomplish something in this sport because you are a woman.
You recently made your 12,000th skydive! An achievement very few have ever accomplished. What / who motivates you and what is your drive to continue jumping?
I actually just made my 12,000th tandem jump. I have over 17,500 jumps total. My motivation is that I love to introduce other people to the wonderful world of skydiving. I’ve had desk jobs and have no intention of returning to that way of life.
How long did it take you to get 12,000 jumps and what was your biggest obstacle?
I have been doing tandem jumps for about 20 years. I would have a larger number but had a 6-month break from jumping in 2013 due to an injury. As far as the biggest obstacle in getting that number of tandems was getting my tandem rating in the first place. Being a woman and 5’2” I had to do everything any guy was asked to do including taking people over 6’ tall and sometimes 225 lbs or larger. The guys would try to change customers with me but my response would always be I take what I am given. There is no exceptions because of who I am.
Funniest tandem story:
I don’t think I have a funniest story. Every jump is unique and I enjoy the myriad of reactions that people have after the canopy opens. I can’t count how many times I have been told by a total stranger that they love me!
What are your future skydiving goals?
To keep doing what I am doing injury free and knowing when I make my last skydive not letting mother nature dictate it to me.
Italian especially with Alfredo Sauce
Favorite junk food?
Homemade Chocolate chip cookies dunked in milk
Favorite food that you enjoy that most people would consider disgusting?
Liver and Onions
Favorite place you’ve visited: Rome
Place you want to visit that you haven’t been to yet? Tuscany
Women skydivers who want different rules in this sport because they are a woman. Skydiving does not require strength to be good. It requires skill. We are equals and should be treated as equals.
What you said as a kid: “When I grow up I want to be ___________________.”
A farm wife.
Something about you that few people know about and would be surprised to learn?
I had a lot of trouble learning to land when I was a new skydiver.
Best book you’ve ever read?
Marley and Me
If you were to write a book, what would be the title?
My life as a Tandem Mistress
Most used app on your smartphone?