Profile - Brianne Thompson | D-30035
by Brian Giboney
Brianne Thompson is a professional skydiver, a member of 2010 U.S. Women’s 4-way Skydiving Team Spaceland Blue, co-founder of AXIS Flight School and a wind tunnel coach. Thompson has competed in formation skydiving at several world championships, earning bronze in Russia in 2010 and silver in France in 2008. She has also competed in seven USPA Nationals, adding more medals to her trophy case. Expect Thompson to be a force at future competitions.
Height: Never ask a woman’s weight. Never.
Marital Status: In a relationship
Transportation: Aston Martin DB9. Oh! You wanted honest answers?
Pet Peeves: When people run out to someone who has just gotten injured and are only there to watch. People do not need to be standing around only to get a glimpse of what is happening—it doesn’t take 15 people to hold up a canopy for shade. I find the people who take in someone else’s misery for their entertainment terrible.
Do you have any pre-jump superstitions? I just try to “check my threes” several times. And of course the handshakes. The universe gets thrown off if you skip the handshakes.
Life Philosophy: Be happy. Do things that make you laugh and smile.
Would you rather have a hard opening or line twists? Line twists. I have options with those. You’re sort of at the mercy of a hard opening and that can suck a whole bunch.
Sponsors: Adrenaline Obsession, Airtec Cypres, BevSuits, Performance Designs, Skydive Spaceland, SkySystems USA, United Parachute Technologies, Vertical Suits
Container: United Parachute Technologies Vector Micron
Main Canopy: Performance Designs Katana 97
Reserve Canopies: Performance Designs Optimum 113 and PD 113R
AAD: Airtec Cypres 2
Home Drop Zones: Skydive Spaceland in Rosharon, Texas, and Skydive Elsinore in California
Year of First Jump: A tandem in 1999. I did my AFF course in 2000.
USPA Licenses and Ratings: A-36304, C-34075, D-30035, Coach, AFF Instructor
Total Number of Jumps: Around 4,000. I don’t really log.
Freefly: more than 20
CF: more than 20
Tandem: six as a passenger
Other: a whole bunch of AFF jumps, load-organized jumps and everything in between
Total Number of Cutaways: five
What was your canopy progression?
As a student, it was pretty slow. I wasn’t the greatest, I wasn’t the worst, but I certainly didn’t get student of the month or anything. I made 1,200 jumps on a Performance Designs Silhouette 170. After that, my progress was pretty fast.
Most people don’t know this about me:
I have a couple Britney Spears’ songs on my iPod, and I secretly love them. I know, I know, it’s shameful. Also, I know how to solve a Rubik’s cube.
What do you like most about the sport?
I love how challenging it is. There is always something new and exciting to learn. The technology in this sport is moving so fast—with gear and tunnels and techniques—that it almost feels hard to keep up. I think that is great.
I love how addictive it is—there are so many people who try it one day and are hooked! I love watching students start out afraid, face their fears and end up having a blast. I love asking newbies to do 4-way. “But I’ve never done 4-way before,” they say. Then I take them on a jump, and they end up turning points. The look on their faces is priceless!
Who has been your skydiving mentor?
Tom Riddick. He has taught me so much about AFF, teaching and how to be an overall good instructor. His passion for teaching is infectious. He is a person that I love to bounce my student stories off of. I have learned so much from him, but he still has a lot to teach me. He touches new students and seasoned instructors alike.
What are your future skydiving goals?
To be an all-around good skydiver. It is fun to be known as a 4-way chick, but it would also be great to be known as a freefly chick, swooper chick or just all-around badass.
What safety item do you think is most important or most often neglected?
I see different things at different drop zones. Everyone runs into problems when they think, “It has happened before, somewhere else, but it can’t happen here or to me.” When jumpers or staff bend the rules when following them is an inconvenience, that is when it gets really scary. Unfortunately, that happens quite often.
Do you have any suggestions for students?
Get coaching. Seriously. Get coaching. In every discipline. Become an all-around good skydiver. It’s lame to be totally awesome in freefall and not so much under canopy and vice-versa.
If you could do a fantasy 2-way with anybody, whom would it be with?
Stephen Hawking. Not only is that guy super cool, but if he had the physical capability to skydive, I think he would totally dig it.
What has been your most embarrassing moment while in freefall?
Dude, I have had so many moments where I just totally spaz out, brain-lock super hard or simply get struck with S.I.S. (sudden instability syndrome). The sad thing is that these were all caught on film, so there is no way I can even attempt to deny them.
What is the toughest thing to do in the sport of skydiving?
Stay patient. There are so many things to do that are so much fun, and they all look so cool that it is hard to stay patient during the learning process.
What do you consider your most significant life achievement?
Creating AXIS Flight School. It is fun running a business that is yours.
Do you have any suggestions for USPA?
To allow competitors to wear their sponsors’ logos on the podium at world events. Sponsors play such a vital role in helping to get competitors on the podium that it is a shame we are unable to thank them in our moment of celebration.
What has been your greatest competition moment?
In 2008, on the podium [at the world championships in Maubeuge, France], the competition committee gave us an additional medal for our teammate Kelley, who couldn’t be there with us. It was awesome. Painful, but awesome. It was great that they honored her with a medal. [Team member Kelley Frederickson died unexpectedly in her sleep just prior to the championships.]
What drives your competitive spirit?
To always do it faster and better than the last time. I hate when I regress. It happens—I don’t like it, but it happens.
How do you motivate yourself for skydiving competitions?
I visualize the best my team ever did on the block or random that is coming up. I picture not just me but my entire team doing it perfectly. When you visualize everyone doing the best possible jump they can, it is pretty easy to get motivated.
How did you get to your current level of skydiving talent?
I worked really hard, and I sacrificed a lot. I never looked back.