Adam Mattacola of Avalore Freefly
According to his bio on the Avalore team page (www.avalorefreefly.com), Adam Mattacola, apparently began jumping in 2004 at my local drop zone, Sibson, near Peterborough in the UK when he was still in his teens.
I don't remember him.
Back then I had 200 jumps and thought I was the right royal shiznit. Who was I to look for the new AFF grads to jump with? Pshhh puh- LEASE! I was too busy making sweet 2 way head up jumps and trying my best to look like I knew what I was doing by colour coordinating my free fly suit colours I had on order. I had just got my C and was strapping a camera to my helmet. I was WAY too busy to deal with the likes of this young scrote!
Fast forward a few years and an almost quick blink of the eyes later, and the same guy is hot off the presses, having just rolled off the newly awarded Euro 40 way HD record and the 11 way Brit HD record days before his 22nd birthday and he has also been garnered the austere title of UK Senior FF champs 2005 with his Avalore team mates. So is a record holder AND champion. All in the space of a few years since he first started. Accomplished at the sprightly age of 21, a full decade younger than me.
"Hmmmmm", I pondered to myself this week, "how in the sweet name of Buddha, Allah, God, Jah and Jehovah did this guy get SO good SO quickly?!"
Am I bitter? Of course not! That would be infantile. It's all love in this sport (especially when I might run into the young hotshot at some point and want some coaching off him!). Seriously though, Adam is obviously one of what I like to call the "new breed", one of the "rising stars" and all that other names that people call those very talented, young people who seem to progress so quickly in their given sporting discipline. I was curious to find out how he had managed to do it, in such a short space of time, and share his insights with the members of the skydiving community, old and young alike, so that we could possibly learn something from him, and shine some light on an obviously very talented flyer.
So without further ado, I decided to find out just what the hell this guy had been up to to progress so quickly and do so well for himself in such a short space of time.
Name: Adam Mattacola AKA Killa Cola
Occupation: Airkix wind tunnel instructor/ Coach; AFF Instructor and Skydiving coach
First skydive (date and location): Tandem skydive Sibson August 2004, AFF Seville August 2004
Years in sport: 3
Number of jumps: 517
Number of mals: 0 :-)
Kit: Vortex2 Hurricane 120, PD120 with CYPRES
Describe yourself in one sentence: determined, loves a challenge, loves to get laid and a little crazy.
I did a tandem jump in August 2004 at Sibson, I had always wanted to jump out of a plane since I was little....I've always been a little thrill seeker and who loves to do something new...in my head not many people have done skydiving and it scared the majority. I like to be different. After we'd jumped that was it, I was hooked - no fear in me at all and I had a big cheesy smile on my face which I could not wipe off for days. As soon as I landed I went to the internet and booked the AFF!!!! I knew this sport was for me.
AFF in Seville 2 weeks later out of a small Cessna with instructors Alex and Jonno (thanks guys). Levels 1-5 I passed first time without a correction signal and with instructors letting go (no tunnel time at this stage). So that night I suppose you can say I got a bit ahead of myself and thought this was an easy ride and went and had a few beers. But stayed out late and only had a few hours kip like you do and went to the DZ knackered. Level 6.....spin flip twist spin spin flip twist all the way down. Hmmm shock to the system. Maybe this is not such an easy ride after all. Repeat Level 6 and yes it was a repeat - literally! ....spin flip twist spin spin spin. Instructor said go home have some rest and lets finish the course tomorrow.
Went home had a kip then practiced on my bed all night. I soooo wanted this license. Then the next day I passed all levels and was one happy bunny. Jumped at Hinton. Got into freefly at around 50 - 60 jumps because it was something new and everyone said how hard it was.... I love a challenge, I love to learn something new and hard! I then went to Sibson and started to jump then had a Russia trip to Kolomna, it was great. 84 jumps in 2 weeks. Halfway into Russia I was still rusty in my sit and it took me along time to get to the base. As soon as I got there it was time for break off! Damn! Everyone started to mock me and I was like, "Come on... I only have 70 jumps!" So I decided "I WILL GET THERE BEFORE BREAK OFF!". So, out of the plane and zoom - but I didn't take into account stopping. Straight through the base. "Oops!". My nickname is "Cola" due to my last name and then they just added "Killa" as I tried to kill them all... hence "Killa Cola".
A lot of the jumps were 2 way sit with Dylan and now I can freefly. (it's better to learn in smaller groups I think). After 200 jumps my buddy "Big Al" AKA Heman recommended me to Airkix to be an instructor. Thanks to him I got the job. I was an electrician before and was happy to leave. Weeks went on and everyone raved about how fast I picked up flying. I just thought they were being nice. A couple of months in and I was there flying around with the top flyers and then all of a sudden they were asking me how to do things. It was one big hit the first time it happened. The legends asking advice from me, all in just a few months! I competed in the World Challenge 2007 wind tunnel comp with Michi from Bedford. We came fourth, only 2 points behind Babylon, who were third. Avalore at this point, were looking for a third member as one had left. They asked me whilst at Airkix. I wanted to compete and get experience but had no money. Avalore has good sponsorship and let me trial for them at Lillo in Spain and they were happy with me. I am now a member of Avalore by spending next to no money - I'm very lucky.
I then wanted to be able to teach anyone, so I did my AFF instructor course at Lillo so now I can teach from complete beginner to advanced headdown and can now pass on my knowledge.
I heard about the Euro record and was desperate to take part. It represented something new and challenging and something not many people can say they have done. The biggest I did before that was 7 way head down. I went from the trial straight into a 20 way. Wow! I was buzzing. Got onto the 30 way record attempt out of 70ish people who turned up for the trials. Deep inside I was exploding with excitement but trying to stay cool about the whole thing. We completed it first time. Then it went to 36 people, then up to 40. Then as a fun jump/British record jump we did an 11way - 3 points. Now, when I get the chance, I will train with Avalore for the Nationals and hopefully we will do well. Alot of other good teams are out there. I now do coaching for all levels of skydiving too. A lot has happened to me in a short space of time - sometimes even now I have to step back and take a deep breath and make sure I'm not dreaming as all of this has happened in the space of working at Airkix within 1 year!
What's a typical day like for you:
Wake up to a cheesy tune as an alarm on my phone, so I can't help but smile even though I'm tired. Hot shower then turn it cold for a few seconds just before I get out. Wakes you up. Go to Airkix to work, give experience and enjoyment and share the sport I love with hundreds of people, and see them smile from ear to ear. Chill out when I get home, then do 'the thing I'm learning' at that particular time. I always like to be learning a new skill from learning a different language to playing piano or guitar or another sport. Then either go to bed or maybe go on my laptop and look at certain pages on the internet which I can't say about in this interview and...well...you know the rest!
Who do you look up to in the skydiving world and why:
I look up to every high achieving competitor as it takes a lot of commitment, hard work and motivation to be in a team. I also respect a lot of students due to there determination by not quitting when they come to a move they struggle to do.
Best jump you have ever had and why:
I think maybe the pants jump I did in Russia. Seven of us in just our boxers and all not really very experienced. It was basically naked bodies flying all over the place out of control with the great expressions on their faces - so much fun but we froze our bollocks off!
Favourite type of jump right now and why:
Has to be a chasing dive with buddies, without trying to lose one another. It's true free flying as you fly at all angles and positions like eagles, carving tracking and belly/ back flying (which I feel are also important areas to be good at) and quick directional changes. Tracking also has to be one of my favourites as I can't do it in the tunnel, and there is so much to do in tracking, so many angles and different speeds.
How have you managed to progress so quickly in such a short space of time?
Tunnel time for sure is the quickest way to learn skydiving skills. It disciplines you to do everything on spot with a coach right in front of you and if you hit that wall, you don't want do it again so you make yourself do it right! I always pushed myself and never let something beat me because it was too hard to do. I believed in myself and after I flew I watched back over my flights and made sure I understood how the wind works with your body instead of just flying and being able to do it without actually understanding WHY. That's the way to do it, making sure you understand why things happen. Being relaxed is a also a big part of flying, so if possible you need to be sure you're not sexually frustrated. Trust me it affects your flying!
Favourite coach you have had coaching from and why?
The Airkix tunnel instructors.... a friendly, helpful bunch who have time for their students and they are very good at what they do.
What makes a skydiver experienced?
Attitude to the sport, safety wise, is very important and that's for both while under canopy as well as in freefall. Also, not knowing HOW to do something but more importantly, WHY it happens - that's the way to learn. If you understand "the why", it is better then doing it a million times and not understanding it. Some people with a couple of hundred jumps have better knowledge of the sport than some guys with a 1000 jumps.
What would you change in the sport if you could change any one thing?
Make it cheaper and be able to jump from a higher altitude.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
I really don't know...I can see myself still in this sport for sure, but I think mainly just coaching and passing on knowledge I have gathered over the years. I tend not to plan the future - I'm more of a guy who goes with the flow and whatever is around the corner, I've just got to make the most of it. You only live once!!!
Greatest non skydiving accomplishment:
4th in the Bedford World Challenge, but if you count that as skydiving related then most probably being in a dance video doing breakdancing.
Make it happen and live your dream - life is only as good as you make it.
Freefall or canopy ride?
Freefall - you share the experience with alot more people while it's happening.
Swoop, or straight in?
Swoop - it's challenging and it's something new to learn, but it's also very dangerous if you underestimate it.
Jump numbers or experience?
Experience - if you have the knowledge and understand it, its better than a bit of paper saying I've done 2000 jumps.
RSL or no RSL?
No RSL - could be a situation where it would not be best if reserve come out straight away.
AAD or no AAD?
AAD for sure just make sure it's the right one for what you are doing....if you swoop - make sure you have a swoop CYPRES.
Fun jump or training:
Fun jump - no pressure and makes it easier to enjoy every moment of the skydive
Noddy or Big Ears:
Steak or Tofu:
The journey or the destination:
The journey - the destination may not turn out to be as good as you thought, but getting there is one big adventure and you have no idea how its going to work out.
Sex or jumping:
Got to be sex, as it is free......well for most people anyway...sex while jumping would be interesting!
Money or fame:
Money. Fame could lead to no privacy. Money will take a lot of worries away.
Many thanks to Adam for taking the time out to answer these interview questions!
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