Max Cohn is the chief instructor of Generation Freefly, a human flight school whose home base is The Ranch Parachute Club in Gardiner, New York. Max has over 5500 jumps and has been in the sport for more than 7 years. This year he is running as a write-in candidate for USPA national director. Dropzone.com spoke to him about where he came from and where he's headed.
If you don’t mind, can I have your jump numbers, the gear you jump, and your canopy progression?
I have over 5500 jumps. I did my first jump in 1995 (tandem). I began AFF in May 1996.
I jump a Mirage G4 with a Precision Aerodynamics Mircroraven 135 reserve. I jump an Icarus Safire II 101.
My first canopy (after student status) was a Paraflite Robo Z 205 (300 jumps). Then, while I was working at Action Air Parachutes in the summer of 1997, I had the opportunity to jump many sizes of Sabres, Monarchs, Spectres and Triathalons, sizes ranging from 190 to 135. I finally landed a good deal on a Sabre 135, which I used for about 400 jumps.
After I lost my Sabre 135 on a baglock, I jumped a Chute Shop ZP 125 for a few hundred jumps. Then I settled into an Icarus Safire 108. I’ve been jumping Safires for 4000 jumps or so.
Give me an intro on what Generation Freefly is, and what you’re trying to accomplish.
Generation Freefly is a freefly school. We strive to teach students about human flight and safety. For four years, we’ve taught thousands of students at our home campus (The Ranch Parachute Club) and all over the world at various drop zones and events.
We are here for the skydiving community and to promote human flight in all forms.
What do you like best about working with students?
My favorite thing when working with students is seeing them make personal improvement. Freeflying (and skydiving in general) is not easy to learn. It is very rewarding to be able to help people in their learning process.
In addition, it is really great to be able to meet so many wonderful people from all over the world.
If you could give one piece of advice to a beginning freeflyer, what would it be?
Accept that learning to fly will take time. We only get so many seconds per jump and so many jumps per day. Try to learn something from each skydive and build upon it for your next skydive.
In light of accidents involving inexperienced freeflyers, would you like to see a licensing system for freefly put in place?
We have to stress safety in our sport constantly. That is the most important thing. It’s a good idea to have some sort of license systems, like the current 3-D award. It gives a structure for people to reference from. I am not sure how strict of a license system we need. That will be determined by communication of the skydiving community and the USPA.
What would you like to see skydivers doing to improve safety?
I would like to see skydivers continue to stress safety every chance possible. Programs such as [USPA] Safety Day are great ideas.
In general, I think that if every skydiver takes the attitude to never get complacent, then we will be better off. Also, I think that every skydiver should be able to accept constructive criticism. It is all about safety.
If you could change one thing about skydiving, what would it be?
In a perfect world, I would change the fatality rate to 0%.
What is competition’s place in this sport?
Competition is very important. It helps give our sport a focus. It becomes a celebration of what we can achieve in the air. Competition helps us push the limits of what we can accomplish in the sky.
Would you like to see any changes in the way competitions are conducted (for example, drug testing, scheduling, etc.)?
I think the biggest thing that we need to improve competition is to listen to the competitors. If we always value the opinions of those participating in the events, then the glitches along the way will hopefully be worked out by communication between judges, officials and athletes.
How often do you do dedicated belly jumps?
When I fly, I utilize all of my body’s surface areas, including my belly. In many of my skydives, both with students and in my personal jumps, I implement belly flying in various ways. I participate in traditional RW jumps here and there. Usually, all of my skydives are not ‘one body position’ type skydives. I like to mix it up as often as possible; belly, back, head down, upright flying, tracking, etc.
What do you see yourself doing 10 years from now?
My desire is to continue to grow as a skydiver and as a human being. Human flight will always have a place in my life and I plan to always be as active as possible. I also look forward to many new exciting experiences in life.
Other than skydiving, what is the most important thing in your life?
That’s an easy one, my family.
Other than skydiving, what is your greatest accomplishment so far in life?
My personal greatest accomplishment in life, other than skydiving, is graduating from Colgate University in 1998. Four years of education (in the blistering cold upstate NY weather) and I made it through with a degree in sociology. My marks were pretty good too.
Max is running as a write-in candidate for USPA national director.
“I think it is important that younger members of our association show an interest in our government,” he says on his reasons for entering the race. “If we want to keep the USPA strong, we all have to participate in some form of another, to keep in self-governed.”
Ballots are due at USPA headquarters by Dec. 31.
-- Jessica B.