Menifee resident jumps her way into International Skydiving Hall of Fame – Press-Enterprise

You might say that Kate Cooper-Jensen has her head in the clouds, but in a good way.

The Menifee resident has more than 14,000 skydiving jumps to her credit and will be inducted into the International Skydiving Hall of Fame on Saturday, Oct. 19, at March Field Air Museum near Riverside.

The banquet and induction ceremony, presented by the Parachute Industry Association, is expected to attract about 400 guests from around the world. The skydiving celebration fundraiser, hosted by Skydive Perris, will benefit the International Skydiving Museum & Hall of Fame, a nonprofit organization, in its efforts to raise money to build the museum in Florida.

The Hall of Fame salutes those who have defined, promoted, inspired and advanced skydiving and shown leadership, innovation or made outstanding achievements, a news release states.

Menifee resident Kate Cooper-Jensen will be inducted into the International Skydiving Hall of Fame in October.(Courtesy of Kate Cooper-Jensen)

“To be honored alongside so many of my heroes is amazing,” said Cooper-Jensen, 58. “I am completely overwhelmed and grateful for this amazing recognition.”

It takes a while to amass the credentials needed to get into the Hall of Fame, she said.

The organization has been good at recognizing women and men who jump and fly together, Cooper-Jensen said. She has been full time in skydiving – either jumping, coaching, competing or selling gear – for nearly 35 years.

Cooper-Jensen took her first jump in November 1978 while a freshman at The College of William and Mary in Virginia, where she earned her degree in geology.

“Some of my classmates were going (to skydive) and I knew it was something I wanted to try out and I loved it,” she said.

An avid traveler and adventurer, Cooper-Jensen recently returned from a trip to Madagascar for pleasure and the Ukraine for a skydiving event with 100 participants in the city of Kharkiv.

“Ukraine has access to some pretty exotic – by our western standards – aircraft and it’s always fun to visit and jump there,” she said.

Kate Cooper-Jensen participated in a P3 Power Play event in 2018. Power Play is an elite worldwide event for skydivers in terms of complexity and challenges. (Courtesy of Craig O’Brien)

In 1997, she began to organize women’s formation skydiving world records with the goal of raising money for charity. Her group set four Fédération Aéronautique Internationale Women’s World Records for Largest Formation Skydive: a 118-way in 1999, a 132-way in 2002, a 151-way in 2005 and a 181-way in 2009. Dubbed Jump for The Cause, these events directed more than $1.9 million in contributions for cancer research and treatment.

Cooper-Jensen won the United States Parachute Association’s Gold Medal for Meritorious Service in 2015 for overall contributions but specifically for her Jump for The Cause events.

High-end large formation events with up to 60 jumpers take several months to plan while world record dives can take a year or more, she said. Routines are practiced on the ground, which is called “dirt diving” and smaller formations with about 15 people practice using creepers, similar to what auto mechanics use to go under cars.

“I don’t teach first-timers but I am an advanced coach, specializing in large formation organizing and coaching,” she said. Her company is P3 Skydiving, headquartered at Perris Skydive.

She and her husband, Carsten, are not only skydivers but avid scuba divers and both enjoy trekking and climbing. Earlier this year they hiked the Inca Trail to Machu Pichu.

“A common misconception about skydiving is that we ‘go up’ when we deploy our canopies,” she said. “That’s because when you watch videos, the camera flyer is usually still falling. Also, one doesn’t really feel like ‘falling’ – it’s not a roller coaster effect. It feels more like laying on a cushion of air.”

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