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Skydiver Profile: Matt Veno

Skydiver Profile: Matt Veno

Published: April 20, 2015

1. What attracted you to the sport of skydiving?

Being able to do what humans were not naturally meant to do - fly. The first time I visited a drop zone, the energy and camaraderie was contagious. Since that first time I geared up and experienced flight, I was hooked and continue to spread the energy that we as skydivers are so privileged to experience.

2. What influenced you to actually make the phone call to make your first skydive?

We joke in our family that my sister, Lauren, had no influence on me deciding to do my first tandem skydive. She was skydiving a year before me and well on her way to getting her A license when she suffered a torn ACL while ground training. Her resilience to heal and courage to suit up in spite of her fears for the chance to take to the skies again had a profoundly inspiring impact on me.

3. What's the most memorable skydive you've ever been on?

The first time I heard the command to bail during an aircraft emergency.

It was a few years ago at CPI, as part of an attempt to fly the largest wingsuit formation ever over CPI. 13 of us boarded with a few tandems, a 4-way RW team, and someone doing a hop-n-pop. It started with the hop-n-pop person exiting when he saw the red light. We continued our climb to altitude and as the plane leveled off on jump run, the wingsuiter riding co-pilot started working his way out of the cockpit. All of a sudden the entire cockpit was engulfed in smoke and an eerie silence fell upon us as we waited to hear a command relayed from the pilot. I was sitting 4 rows back from the bulkhead. The smoke started to spread as we could no longer see the first row of skydivers, then the second row. With my heart racing, I closed my full face helmet as I started to smell this burnt electronic odor emanating from the cockpit.

The silence broke as we heard a voice from within the cloud of smoke yell "GET OUT!" Communication trickled down the bench and was going smoothly until a tandem master, who was in the dark of the emergency situation due to his facing the tail of the plane, said "wait, check the spot!" Chaos ensued. Emotions were peaking, nerves were shot, adrenaline was at full throttle. It was my first aircraft emergency and it was a breakdown of communication. Nearly a minute elapsed from first command to the first jumper exiting, an absolute eternity.

Serendipity occurred: suddenly, the smoke started to clear and the pilot yelled back "It's okay, it's just the fire extinguisher!" We calmed our nerves as much as possible, got the green light and launched into the sky only to realize we had no idea where we were. We yelled "Don't play through" to the men in khakis and polos, as the flight ended with a soft touchdown at a golf course. Upon return to the dropzone, the birth of one of the funniest responses to the question "where did you land?" was created: "I don't know, there were cows."

4. Who / What inspires you?

Seeing someone overcome seemingly impossible hardships to pursue what they love, in spite of society dictating otherwise, is what truly inspires me. There is nothing more spectacular and awe-inspiring than the human spirit and what it's capable of achieving.

5. Of the places you have visited - what is your favorite place and why?

Shout out to Chicagoland Skydiving Center! The facilities are top notch, the staff is wonderful and it is a finely tuned machine that has made CSC one of my favorite DZs to visit.

6. What other interests do you have outside of skydiving?

I'm an amatuer photographer, which lead me to become a camera flyer.

I love to be outdoors: in the summer if I'm not skydiving I enjoy hiking, and in the winter, you'll find me skiing on the slopes.

Driving is another passion of mine. I used to spend my time meticulously detailing vehicles before I found skydiving. Nowadays, the time spent in my vehicles is to propel me to my next adventure.

7. What is something about you that few people know about?

My stomach cannot handle roller coasters. When my sister and I were visiting Z-hills, we went to an amusement park during a windy day and she convinced me to try a roller coaster again. The captured photograph said it all: my sister had her arms up in the air with a huge smile, while my hands were white knuckle gripped onto the bar in front of me with the look of terror on my face.

8. If you could meet anyone in the world for a coffee and a chat (alive or deceased) who would you wish to meet with?

I would love to meet Superman, to see the world from his perspective. Besides, I want his designer's number, that is a kickass suit design!

9. If you could do anything and money was of no object, what would you do?

Travel the world in an unending adventure.

10. What are your future goals?

To continue to learn and spread knowledge in skydiving. Specifically with wingsuiting, as part of Northeast Bird School to help spread fun and safety in the wingsuiting community.

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Experienced Skydivers Welcome!

Thank you for a life changing experience today! Highly highly recommend to everyone interested in jumping!

» Zahariah Theodorou

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