85-year-old skydiver’s quest to complete 1,000 jumps makes a stop in Suffolk

Published 7:21 pm Friday, May 17, 2024

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An 85-year-old skydiver from Colorado stopped by Skydive Suffolk on her cross-country journey to complete 1000 jumps to get her USPA Wings Award. Originally from Michigan, Kim Emmons Knor is an ambassador of the International Skydiving Museum & Hall of Fame and a 2013 Inductee. She was a member of the first U.S. Women’s Parachute Team in 1962, which also saw a gold win at the Sixth World Parachuting Championships in Orange, Mass.

“I just was determined to do it, however, I was right around 550 jumps and I got married and got pregnant and, then it was raising children, all that kind of thing.”

Knor says she started jumping in 1959 when she was 20 years old.

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“We had to be 21 to jump without parental consent. Everything: to drink, to jump, to smoke, to do anything, you had to have parental consent. So I signed my mom’s signature,” she laughed. “I was good at that!”

Knor says that her husband was a test jumper for Pioneer Parachute, but after he had a really bad accident, they both quit skydiving.

“That was going to be our life. You know, we were going to open a drop zone and all those kinds of things. So life changed, drastically,” Knor said with a laugh.

After 37 years of no jumping, her husband unexpectedly had a brain aneurysm when they were both 57 and passed away. Likewise, with her family raised, Knor decided to get back into jumping.

“Got new equipment, had to learn all over again… Parachutes are totally different,  they’re square instead of round. But it was a lot of fun and I had a lot of friends that were from when I started jumping. Then as time came along, I thought, ‘I really like to get those gold wings!’ He [her husband] got his, but I didn’t.”

With Suffolk, Knor is currently at 662 jumps towards her 1000 goal.

“So I am getting there. Yeah, 338 to go! I am counting from the other end now,” Knor said. 

On working with Skydive Suffolk as part of her venture, Knor says that it was “fantastic.”

“I’ve been in contact with them the whole time and just to know that I know people already when I get here and they’ve been so welcoming,” she said.

Knor gave words of encouragement to those afraid of skydiving.

“You don’t know if you’re going to enjoy something or like it unless you try it. So at least go out and try a jump and see,” Knor said. “A lot of the people that are interested in jumping or would like to try it, they say ‘Well, I don’t know, I am really scared. I am scared of heights and scared of being in a high building,’ that’s me. I mean, in the Empire State Building, I cannot walk to the edge and look over…because when you look down, everything is so close, but far away.”

She continued, explaining how skydiving differs overall.

“When you jump from an airplane, you’re traveling the speed of the airplane when you get out. So you don’t have any falling sensation. You’re just flying right along with the airplane…I mean it’s really, really nice,” she said. “And as soon as the parachute opens, you’re just drifting and you don’t even realize that you are going down because things don’t change in the size. It just looks like looking out of a window… I would say go try it! You might be surprised you’ll really like it – and don’t live in the fear that you’re going to fall, because it isn’t that way at all.”

Knor gave words of encouragement to women who want to get into skydiving.

“Please do,” she said. “Because, yeah you have to take time out and raise kids and everything, but once you get in the sport, you’re always going to go back and go back. You can’t eat one peanut. You can’t jump one jump. You have to keep going.”

Likewise, she gave words of encouragement to those regardless of their age. 

“I don’t like to see retired old people sitting home in front of the TV. What a waste of brain power and energy. So get out there!” Knor said. “And if you’re not sure if you really want to do that or not, go out to a drop zone and watch the jumpers. Just watch what they do and how they come in with smiles on their faces and ahhhh! It’s so fun!”

For more information on Knor and her journey, go to facebook.com/SkydivingMuseum.

Editor’s note: Updated first and last passages at 3:55 p.m., Monday, May 27th for additional info.