Every now and again you meet an athlete that simply pushes the limits of what you thought was possible. Over this past year, Iain Jensen did just that with his breath-taking work as a canopy pilot.
From his style to his skill, it is clear Iain is in a class of his own. It's for this reason that team PussFoot asked him some interview questions so we can all learn a little more about the man behind the emerging myth/legend.
What drove you to start skydiving?
I had wanted to skydive since I knew it existed, maybe from about 10 years old. It wasn’t something my parents would have ever let me do. I started traveling in 2006 and went all over the world playing guitar for two years thinking if I was broke with no ability to make conscious choices to direct my life, I would always live outside my comfort zone because I had no idea what I wanted to do I just wanted an adventure. I think, on the one hand, if you don’t know where you’re going, don’t be surprised if you don’t like where you end up. On the other if you don’t know what’s out there it’s a lot of fun to just put one foot in front of the other and figure it out.
I was living in London and had just finished music school. I was looking for a new amp in the classified section of a local newspaper. Right next to it in the job section was an ad that read "very easy, simple job, we pay your flights and accommodation, come to France". I called them and it was a bunch of Irish pykie gypsies straight out of the movie Snatch. They wanted people to go and lay tarmac in Bordeaux. Weirdly I had just been training at a boxing gym in Brighton run by the European heavyweight champ Scott Welch, the same man who fought Brad Pitt at the end of the movie Snatch. At the time I was living with a small-time music producer/drug dealer, my job was to kick this guy out of bed and act his personal trainer, play on records sometimes, and go clubbing with a bunch of Drum-n-Bass producers.
France sounded like fun and I needed something else to do so I got on the plane, thinking I’d save money on rent and go back to London and buy my amp. Instead, it leads to a litany of weird little jobs as I realized I could just keep doing stuff like this and travel and play music all over the world. I worked on a castle renovation in Samoens, France, then an Olive farm in Spain, I worked on a horse farm for a crazy eccentric old guy who walked around wearing a sword in England, then I flew to the states and built high rises in Seattle. I showed up there with $200 in my pocket and no return flight. I then went to Hawaii and played music and lived on the beach, I met a guy called Doug MacCauley who ran construction projects in the Pacific I went with him to build housing on the islands of Vanuatu. From there I went to NZ and worked my way down the country on farms. I finally got to Wellington NZ where I got a job teaching at a local music store and I met Paul, who was a site acquisition lawyer for a cellular provider. I taught Paul how to play a bunch of Pink Floyd tunes and he got me a job
I started in the warehouse of a cellular infrastructure developer and I eventually became a coordinator for 6 rigging teams before going out to work with the teams, who were largely comprised of ex-paratroopers and other military members as the lifestyle is pretty similar. This job led me to meet a man called Michael MacDougall from Canada, who moved to NZ to see a woman he met on the internet. He had spent 20 years building cell towers and later that year he invited me and some others to work in Canada for him.
My direct family never spent much time with our extended family, I never knew what they did growing up. My cousin Doug was the first Scott to climb the North Face of the Eiger in winter, that whole side of the family had been involved in industrial rigging for years. The exact same job I now did. My great-grandmother was been born in Edmonton, Canada, went to New Zealand, married a Scott there and moved to Scotland. I inadvertently went to NZ through a bunch of one-way flights with no money, then ended up in Edmonton doing the same job as the rest of my folks. Really weird
To actually answer the question, I was working on a 400’ guy tower in Alberta and I passed Edmonton Skydive Center every day going to work. I climbed down the tower one day and went and did a tandem. It was Al and Raina’s place, they were awesome people, Al used to run a strip club in Banff which is a huge party town and they were super professional amazing skydivers and also super professional grade party starters! My first jump with Andrew Whyte is burned into my mind as one of the highlights of my life. Thank you Andrew, Al, Raina and ESC!!
What was your most stressful moment skydiving?
My most stress is an ongoing one I guess. My AFF instructor bought my bounce bingo card, it was a game we all jokingly played. Throughout most of my skydiving, a lot of people thought I was going to kill me and or others. I am used to being an odd man out most of my life, as is a pretty common story in this sport. So I started to try really hard to do what I wanted to do but I removed myself as much as I could from conflicting with other people.
I believe in general that you should be able to do what you want so long as you're not pissing in other people's Wheaties. I didn't want anyone to feel like I would put whatever I was doing above their safety or enjoyment because if you fuck up in a moment you don't get any more moments.
I get stressed sometimes about how I am perceived in general if I'm completely honest, I don’t see being honest about that as a weakness either. It's all very well not giving a fuck but it seems to me that this journey is about understanding something more. It is about understanding the environment we willfully put ourselves in, our motivations and knowing essentially that whether we are overcoming fears, satiating desires to achieve things, seeking creativity, connection, or whatever reason it is we do this. They are just choices and challenges we set for ourselves. I lost sight of that a couple of times this year trying too hard! But without trying I wouldn't have got to do some really fun stuff either.
So, thank you to the people who helped me.
What’s Your Most Accomplished Moment?
Without a doubt getting to fly in Mountains in Alaska. In June 2016 Severin Ott a 23yr old WS BASE flyer, paraglider and speed flier, came to Deland and we decided we wanted to fly XRW down a mountain.
This kid was a nut case but he was so positive happy and relaxed it didn't push people away from him. Sev then died at an exit point, High Titlus, in Switzerland on a WS BASE jump before we got to fly together.
I then started talking to Pryce Brown about flying in Alaska, Lane Paquin said he also wanted to fly this idea and Vicente Cajiga too. So, we had a crew, we put up the money, made a plan and in June 2017 we went and did it.
Just to be over the mountain and in this beautiful place was the sickest feeling I had ever had, getting to do what I love most, which is just fly parachutes! Much love too to Scotty Burns, a friend to me since the day I met him, who passed in his sleep recently. It's not the same without you!
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