Special Tandems

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World Record for the oldest person to do a tandem jump!

Al Blaschke, a 106-year-old World War II veteran, jumps into the record books
Photo by James Atkins

And the Governor of Texas makes a leap of faith…

The 27th of November, 2023 was far from an ordinary Monday morning at Skydive Spaceland San Marcos. One of the tandems 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 and was looking to break that record.

Another was Greg Abbott, the Governor of Texas — who also happens to be paraplegic. These would be two very special and super high-profile, tandem skydives.

Alex Broussard, tandem instructor with Greg Abbott, the Governor of Texas
Image by Rosy Booker

As you can imagine, tons of planning and preparation went into these jumps. When it first came onto the radar that Al Blaschke wanted to do another skydive, this time alongside Governor Abbott, Alexander Broussard was the obvious instructor choice for Abbott. Alex is a highly qualified tandem instructor, with experience in taking people of all abilities skydiving. 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 legs can then be raised into a seated position to facilitate a safe landing.

Greg Abbott, the Governor of Texas, enjoys a tandem jump with Spaceland instructor Alex Broussard, who took this photo

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.”

Alex Broussard

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

Al Blaschke, Governor Abbott and tandem instructor Victor Krusi
Image 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. His new world record is for making a tandem skydive at 106 years old. His instructor, Victor Krusi, is also a veteran – not only a military veteran with 22 years in the Coast Guard, and also a veteran skydiver with over 18,000 jumps. Vic 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 those two extraordinary jumps, was that there really wasn’t much deviation from any other tandem conducted by our 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. That said, every single tandem skydiver we train is unique, and is treated as such for the best experience they can possibly have skydiving.

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Meet: Rosy Booker

Rosy is the lead AFF Instructor and Safety & Training Advisor at Skydive Spaceland San Marcos, and a Coach and AFF-I Evaluator with The Ratings Center. She has also taught AFF in Australia and New Zealand, and was a Military Free Fall jumper and Static Line Instructor in the Australian Army. Rosy is committed to elevating safety standards and fostering skill development through education and training. 

Rosy is proudly sponsored by LB Altimeters and Cookie.

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