Trent Alkek, D-24348, along with teammates Jed Lloyd and Stephen Boyd, set the USPA Nationals on fire in freefly from 2003 to 2007. Their team, Spaceland Anomaly, created some never-before-seen moves and also set several world records during speed rounds. Alkek, a USPA member for 17 years and counting, is now a sought-after load organizer who also works in aircraft leasing at Skydive Spaceland—Houston in Rosharon, Texas.
Birthplace: Houston, Texas
Marital Status: Married
Occupation: Operations manager for Desert Sand Aircraft Leasing, part of the Skydive Spaceland family
Education: Bachelor of Science in finance from NYU’s Stern School of Business
Jump Philosophy: It has to be fun. If we’re risking “serious injury or death,” each jump better be enjoyable. Doesn’t matter if it’s a 2-way with a new jumper or a world-record jump. You have to enjoy what you’re doing.
Team Name: Spaceland Anomaly
Sponsors: My paycheck and Skydive Spaceland. Previously Airtec, Firefly, Larsen & Brusgaard, Performance Designs, Sunrise Rigging International and Vertical Suits
Container: Sunrise Rigging International Wings EXT
Main Canopy: Performance Designs Valkyrie 84
Reserve Canopy: Performance Designs PDR 113
AAD: Airtec CYPRES
Disciplines: Freefly, but I like everything.
Home Drop Zone: Skydive Spaceland—Houston in Rosharon, Texas
Year of First Jump: 2000
Licenses and Ratings: A-36813, B-24154, C-31447, D-24348, expired PRO and AFF ratings
Championships, Medals and Records: 2002 USPA Nationals, intermediate freefly champion; 2003 and 2004 USPA Nationals, open freefly silver medalist; 2005-2007 USPA Nationals, open freefly champion; 2005 World Games, bronze freefly medalist. Three world records for fastest sequence (speed rounds); five head-down large-formation records; two head-down sequential world records and some state records, including a 150-way formation skydive. Silver and gold medals at the 2015 Mexican Nationals.
Total Number of Jumps: 7,500-plus
Freefly: 6,500 FS: 1,000 Camera: 150
CF: 50 (sport CF) Accuracy: 20 Demos: 20
Balloon: Four Tandems: Three
Largest Completed Formation: 150-way (on my belly)
Total Number of Cutaways: Two
Most people don't know this about me: I used to work in finance in New York, and I don’t regret leaving it all behind!
Of all your skydives, is there one jump that stands out most? As a newbie up at the Ranch in New York, I did a 3-way with Max Cohn and my dad. We did a hybrid at sunset over the fall foliage, and it was amazing.
Who have been your skydiving mentors? My teammates, Jed Lloyd and Stephen Boyd. I don’t think I’ve learned anywhere near as much from anyone else. We were poster boys for learning things the hard way; we just divided the effort by three!
What are your future skydiving goals? I’d really like to keep doing the big-way records and to focus on mainly small groups of friends jumping in amazing places. Vacation mini-boogies, I guess.
What safety item do you think is most neglected? Knowledge about the gear. I’m always shocked when sport jumpers don’t understand how their gear works or even how to tell when something is wrong with it.
Do you have any advice for students? Respect what you’re doing. As safe as the sport has been made, it’s still dangerous.
If you could do a fantasy 2-way, whom would it be with and where would it take place? Ha! Ronald Reagan over D.C., or anywhere with my dad, who’s had to retire from jumping.
Were you a hard child to raise? I could have been a lot worse. You’re welcome, parents.
What’s your most embarrassing moment in freefall? I can’t remember which freefly world record it was, but as it was building and I was already docked on it, my jumpsuit zipper blew out. I remember thinking, “Why is my chest so cold?” Then I felt my jumpsuit legs inflate and it shot me vertically out of the formation. Next thing I knew I was in a sit over the largest freefly formation ever attempted. I just slowly floated up and tracked away. If it weren’t so funny, I’d have gotten cut. Yes, there’s video.
The toughest thing to do in the sport of skydiving is: Say “no.” When someone doesn’t have the skills to do what you’re planning to do with your group, it’s almost always better to say “no” to them and catch them on a later jump. This is where organizers can either be great or just unsuccessful and unsafe. It’s not personal. Say “no.” If you’re told “no,” don’t get upset. Work at getting better so that it becomes a “yes.”
What kind of skydiving student were you? I was pretty decent. I don’t remember having to repeat anything, but then Linda Waz [Linda Wasilonski] at the Ranch wouldn’t have let us live it down if we did.
Is there one jump you would like to do again? Probably the last jump of our first competition ever. Going into a competition with no expectations and no knowledge of the level of the other teams and just having fun was awesome. We were all nervous, but it was awesome. We had no idea how we’d stack up.
What do you consider your most significant life achievement? Having my son. My wife gets credit for the assist on that one.
Do you have any suggestions for USPA? Make a push for more experienced freeflyers to become judges. There are great teams out there, but I think we see a lot of very similar routines now, and that makes me sad. It was always incredible seeing teams trying very technical routines, even if they weren’t super polished. Unfortunately, I think a lack of experience in judges here and worldwide has really served to reduce the “wow” factor in freeflying competition. Of course, that means I need to get off my butt and get the rating, too.
What has been your best skydiving moment? Turning mixed FS and vertical formation skydiving points with my teammate, Stephen; and Craig [Girard] and Eliana [Rodriguez] from [Arizona] Airspeed at the World Freefall Convention. This was before VFS existed, but doing four belly points and four vertical points with those guys—and cranking—was awesome.
What has been your greatest competition moment? Moving from intermediate to open freeflying and winning silver. We were just having a good time and had no clue how we’d do against teams that we looked up to. We even beat world champions in a couple of rounds that year. It was a shock to be up on that podium, and I think that medal meant the most to me.
What was the key to Anomaly’s team chemistry? I think we were all mentally in the same place. We all loved the teams we came up watching like Guano, Arizona Freeflight and Alchemy, and we wanted to take risks like they did to see if we could stack up. All of us being basically on the same skill level helped a lot, as well. I’d say that probably 5,000 of my jumps are with them in some form or another.
Do you have any advice for someone aspiring to a national championship in freefly? Don’t play it safe. Create moves that are very difficult but will leave jaws hanging when they work, then practice those moves until you can’t screw it up. Put in the work. Everything that we did was practiced over hundreds of jumps. Don’t give up on a good idea because it’s hard.
Explain Trent Alkek in five words or fewer: I’m not really a jerk.