84-Year-Old Skydiver on Her Way to 1,000 Jumps: ‘It’s Very Calming to Soul’ (Exclusive)

Kim Emmons Knor is hoping to earn her Gold Wings by 2026

<p>Ryan Kramer/ Skydive Indianapolis</p> Kim Emmons Knor jumping with Skydive Indianapolis in July 2023

Ryan Kramer/ Skydive Indianapolis

Kim Emmons Knor jumping with Skydive Indianapolis in July 2023

Kim Emmons Knor is traveling the country jumping out of airplanes — and at 84 years old, she has no plans to stop.

Knor has made 600 jumps in her life, and is hoping to earn her Gold Wings for making 1,000 jumps within the next two years.

Skydiving has been Knor's passion since she was 6 years old, she tells PEOPLE.

When her uncle returned home from serving in the Navy Air Corps during World War II, he brought a parachute with him, she recalls. “He had to make an emergency jump, and he tore on the tail of the plane. So, they gave him the parachute to take home with him," she shares. "And oh, my gosh, I listened to his stories about what happened, and all I could think about was going on riding a parachute. And then he bought a plane and my dad bought a plane, and so I was flying with them a lot as I was growing up."

Flying in their planes, she says, made her obsessed with the idea of jumping out of one.

“I was always trying to figure out a way to lean on the door and fall out so I could use the parachute,” the Cadillac, Michigan native says. “That's all I could think about.”

<p>Anthony Ebel/ Skydive Chicago</p> Kim Emmons Knor gets ready for a jump with Skydive Chicago

Anthony Ebel/ Skydive Chicago

Kim Emmons Knor gets ready for a jump with Skydive Chicago

She forged her parents’ signature so she could make her first jump when she was 20 (since she was shy of her 21st birthday, then the minimum age for a skydive). And she hasn't stopped since.

“My favorite thing is once the parachute's open and I know everything's good – I always open high so I can float around and it's quiet and just see the land below,” she says. “I just really enjoy being in the sky and flying like a bird and just drifting around, watching everything below me. I think it's very calming to the soul.”

After her first several jumps in her 20s, she was invited to join the U.S. women’s parachute team for the international championship in 1960.

"That's what really got me going,” she shares. “My dream was standing under the US flag, and getting in, and hearing the national anthem playing like they do at international events and winning a gold medal.”

<p>Joe Gonzales/USA Team</p> Kim Emmons Knor in 1962

Joe Gonzales/USA Team

Kim Emmons Knor in 1962

She met her husband, Malan Knor, at an international skydiving competition; he was a member of Team Yugoslavia.

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They married and jumped together — but not long after, he was test jumping parachutes and had a bad accident.

She and her husband were married for 30 years until he died suddenly of a brain aneurysm at age 58 in 1997.

“We had 30 years of a great marriage and a lot of fun, but it was my chance to go back into skydiving again,” she says.

<p>Courtesy Kim Emmons Knor</p> Kim Emmons Knor in 1960

Courtesy Kim Emmons Knor

Kim Emmons Knor in 1960

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In 2003, she did just that. And now, with the support of the U.S. Parachute Association (USPA), she is working on earning her Gold Wings for making 1,000 jumps. (You can click here to join Knor and book your first skydive.)

“You get a big sense of freedom when you leave the plane and you're flying like a bird, and it's just you up there,” she says.

Knor has four grandchildren, ages 22 to 26.

“They’ve all jumped with me,” she says. “It’s fun to see the joy.”

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