Spaceland-San Marcos Does High-Profile Tandems Right
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Saturday, July 20, 2024
Spaceland-San Marcos Does High-Profile Tandems Right

Spaceland-San Marcos Does High-Profile Tandems Right

People
Tuesday, March 12, 2024

Above: Instructor Vic Krusi brings 106-year-old World War II veteran Al Blaschke in for landing. Photo by James Aikins.

November 27 was both an ordinary and a far-from-ordinary Monday morning at Skydive Spaceland-San Marcos in Fentress, Texas. One of the tandem skydivers on the first load was Al Blaschke, a 106-year-old World War II veteran who had set the Guinness World Record in 2020 for being the oldest person to skydive at 103 years of age. He was looking to break that record again. Another jumper on that load was Greg Abbott, the governor of Texas, who also happens to have paraplegia. 

When it first came onto the radar that Blaschke wanted to do another skydive, this time alongside Governor Abbott, the drop zone began tons of planning and preparation for the high-profile jumps.  As a highly qualified tandem instructor with experience in taking people of all abilities skydiving, Alexander Broussard was the obvious instructor choice for Abbott. His specialty harness for such skydives, made by Jay Stokes, keeps the tandem student’s legs attached to the instructor to allow the instructor to maintain control on exit and in freefall. There are cutaway straps to release the legs after canopy deployment and the instructor can then raise the legs into a seated position to facilitate a safe landing.

Broussard said, “There’s so much planning, preparation and training that goes into a high-profile jump. You are expected to perform flawlessly while being observed by the media, security and your peers every step of the way. This adds some extra pressure, even though this is just another jump like I’ve previously done thousands of times. When so much is going on in your head, you tend to revert back to your training. It was such a surreal feeling to be able to perform normally under the additional pressure.”

After landing exactly on target, Governor Abbott joked that his greatest fear was realized, where he “would land and would not be able to walk away.”

Tandem Instructor Vic Krusi poses with Al Blaschke and Texas Governor Greg Abbott prior to their skydives. Photo by Rosy Booker.

Al Blaschke first went on a tandem skydive in 2017 for his 100th birthday, and again in 2020, when he set the Guinness World Record for being the world’s oldest skydiver. He now holds the new record after making his tandem skydive at 106 years old with instructor Victor Krusi. Krusi is also a veteran—not only a military veteran with 22 years in the Coast Guard, but also a veteran skydiver with more than 18,000 jumps. Krusi is 62 years old, making the total age on that jump 168 years! (That’s not an official record, but it should be!)

What stood out the most about the two extraordinary jumps was that there really wasn’t much deviation from any other tandem conducted by the Skydive Spaceland team. Sure, not many people show up to do a tandem with an entire security service and national media, and it’s not very common for people over the age of 100 to skydive, but that said, every single tandem skydiver is unique and receives the best experience they can possibly have.

Rosy Booker | D-34461
Lockhart, Texas

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