Jeannie Bartholomew | D-30638
by Brian Giboney
Jeannie Bartholomew is a dedicated professional canopy pilot who (along with her husband, Curt Bartholomew) has put everything she has into the sport of skydiving. She is a member of Team Alter Ego Fastrax and travels the globe to teach canopy piloting skills and compete in events. Prior to skydiving she was a competitive cheerleader, and jumpers feel her positive attitude and energy wherever she goes.
Age: Is nothing but a number
Birthplace: Greenbrae, California
Marital Status: Married to the man of my dreams
Children: Someday; I gotta lotta swooping to do!
Occupation: Professional canopy pilot on Team Alter Ego Fastrax and owner of the Alter Ego Project Canopy Piloting School
Pet Peeves: When someone acts like they are too good to make a jump with a skydiver who has less experience. You have no idea how much that one jump could mean for them!
Pre-Jump Superstitions: The diamonds on my thumb ring have to be facing forward before exit. If I’m jumping with Curt, he has to be the last one I high five. My seat belt can’t have line twists.
Life Philosophy: Be kind, selfless and patient and treat people the way you want to be treated. If you work hard, amazing things will happen. I truly believe the statement, “Your character is defined by how you treat someone who can do nothing for you.”
Jump Philosophy: Check your gear, check your friends’ gear, check your gear again.
Team Name: Team Alter Ego Fastrax
Sponsors: Advanced Aerospace Designs, Cookie Helmets, Elite Tans, Flysight, Hypoxic, Larsen & Brusgaard, Liquidsky Sports, Option Studios, Performance Designs, Sun Path Products, Selection.com, Skydive Sebastian in Florida and Start Skydiving in Middletown, Ohio
Container: Sun Path Javelin
Main Canopies: Performance Designs Peregrine 64 for speed, Peregrine 67 for distance and Peregrine 71 for accuracy and freestyle. Performance Designs Valkyrie 67 and Valkyrie Hybrid 67 and 71 when I’m coaching and for freefall.
Reserve Canopy: Performance Designs Optimum 113
AAD: Advanced Aerospace Designs Vigil Extreme
Home Drop Zone: Skydive Sebastian
First Jump: 2006. I made two tandems and then found out I could go by myself! Started AFF the next week.
Licenses and Ratings: B-29620, D-30638, PRO, Coach and AFF Instructor
Medals and Records: 2017: first overall (first in accuracy, third in distance), 2017 Italian Swoop Tour. 2016: third overall (first in accuracy, third in speed) Northeastern Canopy Piloting League Meet One. 2015: third in zone accuracy, Brazilian Nationals; third overall for the season in the advanced class, Florida Canopy Piloting League. 2014: second in zone accuracy, Swedish Swoop Cup Meet One; first overall FLCPA Pro/Am Meet Three; first in advanced overall, FLCPA Meet Two. 2013: second in advanced distance, Lord of the Strings PD Project Orange; third in advanced overall (second in distance, second in speed), Sun Path Products Canopy Piloting Open.
National women’s records: longest distance (127.25 m), fastest speed (2.386 seconds in 2017), fastest speed (2.411 seconds in 2016). North American women’s records: fastest speed, longest distance. State women’s records: Tennessee longest distance and fastest speed, Florida fastest speed, North Carolina fastest speed
Total Number of Jumps: 5,000 Canopy Piloting: 4,300
Freefly: 500 CF: 100 Camera: 25 Demos: 25
FS: Five Tandems: Two as a passenger; one as an instructor as a dare. (I was with a tandem examiner.) Balloon: Two
Largest Completed Formation: 20-way canopy flock
Total Number of Cutaways: Six
Of all your skydives, does one jump stand out?
Curt and I did a 2-way swoop into our wedding location. Julio [Ruiz] from Liquidsky made us bride and groom swoop shorts, and we nailed the perfect 2-way swoop in front of all of our friends and family!
Most people don't know this about me:
I’m a natural redhead.
Who have been your skydiving mentors?
Wyat Drewes taught my first canopy course and is the reason I fell in love with canopy piloting. Diana Blackburn, Jay Moledzki and Greg Windmiller have all been part of my early swoop progression. The one person who has influenced me the most, pushed me the hardest, always believed in me and made me the canopy pilot I am today is my husband, Curt Bartholomew. He is the most incredible coach and the most badass canopy pilot on the planet but also the most humble. He continues to inspire me every day.
What are your future skydiving goals?
To beat my husband! Also, to have a podium sweep with my teammates, Curt and Alex [Hart]. My biggest goal is that I want to be on the podium in swoop freestyle. I love freestyle more than any other event in canopy piloting.
What safety item do you think is most important or most often neglected?
Canopy control in general. People don’t focus enough on progressing their canopy skills. You don’t have to swoop to be a good canopy pilot. We see far too many injuries on landing that could have been prevented.
How did you become interested in skydiving?
My sister Sonya did a tandem when I was 5 years old. I saw the video and started making parachutes out of pillowcases, sheets and umbrellas and jumped off of everything I could.
Do you have any suggestions for students?
Take a canopy course as early on as possible. As long as you’re clear of traffic, practice something under canopy on every single jump.
If you could do a fantasy 2-way with anybody, whom would it be with?
Wyat Drewes. We would fly canopies together and do a 2-way swoop on landing. I know he would be so proud of my flying.
The toughest thing to do in the sport of skydiving is:
Ride that fine line of pushing the limits in competition and being safe.
What kind of skydiving student were you?
I was a complete natural in freefall. One of my instructors during AFF told me I should stick to cheerleading, because I would never be able to land a parachute. Proved him wrong!
What has been your best skydiving moment?
I was given a wild card slot to compete at the World Games in Poland. I nailed my signature freestyle move and ran the landing out downwind for the first time in front of all my family. I ended up placing 12th in the world and felt like I really earned that slot.
What has been your greatest competition moment?
Winning my first competition as a pro canopy pilot! I took home the gold overall, the gold in accuracy and the bronze in distance at the Italian Swoop Tour at Skydive Flygang. It was the most amazing feeling to stand on the top of the podium and see my husby with the biggest proud smile on his face.
What has been your worst skydiving moment?
Not making the U.S. Team after working extremely hard all season. I cried for three hours straight after Nationals. That being said, it drove me to switch to the 810 [-degree turn] and push even harder going into the season.
What is your favorite part of coaching and competing with your husband?
I really love the dynamic that Curt and I bring to coaching. Both of us are extremely passionate about flying parachutes, and we really balance out each other’s strengths and weaknesses. In competition, we support each other and push each other past our limits.
What do you see in the future for swoop comps?
I think the swoop freestyle platform will really take off! It is such an incredible event that helps educate the crowd on what freestyle canopy piloting is. It’s exciting and the crowd loves it when we land on the raft and when we go sliding off! I believe we will start to see swoop freestyle events hitting the mainstream!
Explain Jeannie Bartholomew in five words or fewer:
Competitive, driven, adventurous, passionate, sincere