When, where, why and how did you make your first skydive and first BASE jump?
I made my first skydive in 2005 at Skydive Perris as an AFF student with Karen Lewis Dalton. I made my first BASE jump in 2007 at the Perrine Bridge in Idaho as a static line jump with Jimmy and Marta from Apex
I have somewhere around 5,000 skydives and a little more than 1,000 BASE jumps
You’ve travelled the globe skydiving and BASE jumping, what jump(s) stand out as being most memorable?
All but a few of my skydives have been in Southern California, but the BASE jumps that stand out to me have more to do with the people I was with than the location they were done. For this reason the list is long, but in the interest of answering this question, I’ll say that every time I’ve jumped Half-Dome in Yosemite has been memorable.
What is it about BASE jumping that draws you to it?
To be clear, the reasons that keep me BASE jumping are ever-changing and rapidly evolving, but what first drew me to BASE jump was the freedom and confidence I saw exhibited by those engaged in the sport.
What advice would you give to someone who is thinking about BASE jumping for the first time?
First I’d give them the advice given to me by the first BASE jumper I’d ever met, Matt Gerdes. He said, “Protect yourself, because no one in the sport will”.
Second I’d tell them what my running partner Ian Flanders always reminded me. He said keep your motivations for BASE jumping clear and without compromise, because clean motivations will be the only consolation you will have if a jump doesn’t go your way.
Who are your skydiving and BASE jumping mentors?
Karen Lewis, Dan B.C., Jimmy and Marta, Marty Jones and the hard, unforgiving ground.
I enjoy all the disciplines of skydiving, but what I enjoy most about wing suiting is the range it gives me to glide, dive, cover great distances or do aerobatic maneuvers that seemed impossible without a plane. The more options you have the more freedom you feel and nothing gives as many flight options as wing suiting. You just have to get over the feeling that you’re trapped within the suit.
What canopies do you jump and why?
For Skydiving I jump a Dacron lined PD Spectre 120 and an Epicene 130 by Squirrel. Both canopies provide consistent on heading openings, stable flight characteristics in varying conditions while still being fun to fly.
For BASE jumping I jumped the majority of my career on a vented Apex Flik 254 Ultra Light which was the most innovative canopy of its era. It had solid on heading openings, great glide for a BASE canopy while maintaining performance in braked approaches or going backward, immediate response to control inputs and low pack volume.
Recently I have switched over to the Outlaw from Squirrel, which was a difficult switch for me since it’s quite different from the canopies I’d flown my whole career. However, after learning the canopy I’ve found it’s deep brakes and near-stall performance is second to none. It’s an incredibly safe canopy for flying into tight landing areas and across all disciplines of BASE jumping which is increasingly more important to me as I get older and wiser.
You’re an extreme athlete in many different sports and have been involved in many unusual projects and stunts, tell us about some of your work!
One of my favorite multi-spot projects was to BASE jump a mountain bike off a Moab cliff and then land the bike under parachute. The stunt took expertise in technical bike riding, BASE jumping as well as rigging and was a great challenge.
Is there a ‘dream jump’ you have yet to do?
My heritage is Palestinian and last season I was fortunate enough to meet an Israeli wingsuiter while setting a World Record at Perris. My dream jump is for us to jump flying wing suits over the border of the Israeli/Palestinian territory towing flags of our respective people. Borders are man made, we need to show them when we decide to simply accept that we’re all the same.
You are known for your big heart and have recently set up an organization called ‘The Freefall Foundation’ which aims to bring the dream of flight to those who can’t afford it. Tell us how it works, and how can people get involved?
The foundation works through a nomination process where you can tell us of someone you think deserves to experience flight. We take those nominations and try to get as many as we can in the air. You can help by donating to our cause, nominating someone you know, or offering your services as an instructor on our website www.freefallfoundation.com.
Tell us something that is little known about yourself?
I have webbed toes.
What’s going on in Matt’s world for the rest of 2016?
Greece, Burning Man, Teaching people how to parachute, Kuala Lumpur, Thailand, rest for a day, love everyone around me all the time, lunch, Moab, Utah, Yosemite for some climbing and hopefully make it to 30 years old (my lifetime goal).
Sum up Matt Blank in 5 words or less.
Take my hand, we’re summiting.