Kyle Lobpries, D-33714, is a former attack helicopter pilot for the U.S. Marine Corps, as well as a T-6B Texan II (tandem-seat turboprop trainer) flight instructor for the Navy, Marine Corps and Air Force. With a need for flight and speed in his blood, it was only natural for him to gravitate toward wingsuiting and speed flying. At the most recent Fédération Aéronautique Internationale World Championships, he not only won the gold medal in speed skydiving, but also set the FAI World Record for fastest competition freefall speed, clocking in at 316.23 miles per hour. He is also the current Guinness World Record holder for greatest absolute distance flown in a wingsuit at 19.94 miles. Lobpries is a USPA Lifetime Member and valuable member of the U.S. Parachute Team, and continues to collect hardware for his trophy case.
Nicknames: Dexter, after the Showtime series character, which was my callsign as a Marine Corps pilot
Birthplace: Houston, Texas … unless you mean my skydiver birthplace, which was southern California
Marital Status: Happily married to the beautiful and talented Andrea Chan
Children: None so far
Pets: Andrea surprised me with a 10-week-old Bernese mountain dog when I returned from Russia!
Occupation: Full-time graduate student, but also working part time with a family custom-home builder
Education: Bachelor’s degree in architecture from Texas A&M University in ’06 and just starting the master of architecture program at University of Houston
Pet Peeves: Dogs defecating in the grass packing areas
Life Philosophy: Work hard, play hard. Everything in moderation. Variety is the spice of life.
Neat packer or a trash packer? I take pride in my pack jobs.
Jump Philosophy: Quality over quantity.
Sponsors: Cookie Helmets, Performance Designs, dealer/coach for Squirrel, United Parachute Technologies
Container: Vector Micron V-314-1
Main Canopy: Performance Designs Valkyrie 84 and Horizon 135 (both fit nicely in the same rig)
Reserve Canopy: Performance Designs Optimum
AAD? Of course; Airtec CYPRES
Home Drop Zone: Skydive Perris in California for many years, now Skydive Spaceland-Houston in Rosharon, Texas
First Jump: AFF at Skydive Elsinore in California in 2011
Licenses and Ratings: A-58336, B-34369, C-40055, D-33714; Squirrel and TonySuits wingsuit coach
FAA Ratings: Senior Rigger, Multi-Engine Airline Transport Pilot, Commercial Rotorcraft, Commercial Single-Engine Seaplane, Certified Flight Instructor-Instrument, Multi-Engine Instructor and Commercial Drone Operator
Total Number of Jumps: 2,601
- Wingsuit: 1,200
- Tandem: 420
- FS: 400
- Freefly: 350
- Camera: 50
- Balloon: 24
- Demos: 23
- BASE: 385
Largest Completed Formation: 87-way
Total Number of Cutaways: 3
How long do you plan on skydiving?
Who have been your skydiving mentors?
Meili Modini (taught me to pack), Dan Brodsky-Chenfeld, Jeanine Bonvin (AFF mentor, tunnel and wingsuiting training partner), James Perez (ratings), Taya Weiss (wingsuit coaching and load organizing), Dusty Hanks & Co (static/dynamic tunnel), Lori Butz, Brandon Chance and Micah Couch (wingsuit BASE), Jeremy Karnop (rigging).
What safety item do you think is most important or most often neglected?
Gear knowledge and maintenance.
What’s the most badass thing you can do in the air?
Control speed wobbles at 300 mph
If you could do a fantasy 2-way, whom would it be with and where would it take place?
I am fortunate to have already lived my fantasy 2-way. I took my mom as a tandem passenger on a skydive on the southern Texas coastline on Mother’s Day 2020.
What has been your most embarrassing moment while in freefall or at a drop zone?
Somewhere around 100 jumps, I lost awareness on a zoo raft dive and pulled low. An AAD fire on rental gear resulted in a two-out. Dan BC [Brodsky-Chenfeld] put me in timeout for a month.
Someday I am going to own:
An experimental unlimited aerobatic plane with a turbine engine and beta (reverse thrust) capability, so I can precisely adjust drag as required to do XRW with wingsuiters, high performance canopy pilots and even angle fliers.
The toughest thing to do in the sport of skydiving is:
Stay motivated at the beginning when the sport is expensive and it’s hard to find friends to jump with. Join camps and utilize the organizers! It gets better as you gain experience!
What do you consider your most significant life achievement?
The amount of memories, stories and photos I have amassed from a variety of rich life experiences. As I get older, I find more and more significance and satisfaction in helping someone else to make a memory, accomplish a goal or achieve a dream.
While skydiving, what has been your strangest thought?
If you fart while back-flying a wingsuit, you can smell it escape the suit by your neck.
Do you have any suggestions for USPA?
Please consider following other countries’ precedents (France, Australia, etc.) and find ways to provide more financial assistance to U.S. Parachute Team athletes for training or competition expenses through budget reallocations, a tandem tax, etc. Many top athletes choose not to compete or adequately train due to financial hardship while their counterparts are funded by the state or parent groups.
What has been your weirdest skydiving moment?
I recently had my first cutaway due to diving line twists caused by complacent body position on deployment. I was in an intense spinning dive for 2,000 feet before I realized I was yanking on my hip ring that had been lifted by the G force of the spin, and not my metal mini-D-ring cutaway handle. Practice your emergency procedures every day, and always consider every circumstance in which you may need to use them.
What drives your competitive spirit?
Desire to exceed personal limits, redefine the possible and inspire others.
How does winning the world championship in speed skydiving feel?
Surreal. This journey started six years ago at a USPA Nationals test event at Skydive Arizona in Eloy. Since then, I attended two speed world championships (Chicago 2016 and Australia 2018) where the barometric ProTracks were returning far lower scores than my Flysight GPS. I was frustrated, but I patiently waited for FAI to adopt GPS as its preferred scoring method. When they did, I showed up to the world stage ready to do work. GPS scoring and the reliability of the Flysight gave the speed discipline the credibility it needed to grow.
How have the experiences of being a military helicopter pilot and flight instructor helped you as a skydiver?
Of course, any pilot training will help with skydiving concepts like planning a landing pattern, dealing with winds and understanding the effect of density altitude. However, the greatest benefit of my exposure to the structured, fast-paced military style of training is understanding the power of self-study, the brief, the debrief and visualization. The military flight training standard is that the student shows up to a flight knowing everything contained in all the publications related to that phase of training. The equivalent would be requiring students to have the Skydiver’s Information Manual memorized to pass a first-jump course. The instructor’s job is not to teach the student the knowledge in the book, it is to teach them how to apply it. I believe that learning to hold myself to these standards of self-learning and chair flying (visualizing) is what has allowed me to more quickly acquire skills, get ratings and achieve my goals.
Explain Kyle in five words or fewer:
Dream, inspire, never grow up.