Published: June 27, 2019
If we were to rewind time to January 2018 and ask Matthew McCarthy what the year ahead would bring, one of the last things he'd likely say is "skydiving". Yet, 6 months later, Matt made his first tandem skydivng jump -- and today he eats, drinks and sleeps skydiving.
We're thrilled to have Matt now as a member of the Long Island Skydiving Center staff. As a familiar face on the dropzone, we thought it was time to share his story.
RAISED IN OUR LONG ISLAND BACKYARD
When Matt was just two, his family moved from North Carolina to sweet little Bohemia, New York, just 20 minutes down the street from the Long Island Skydiving Center dropzone. And he's lived in the same house all of his so-far life.
While growing up, Matt was always outside - whether that meant playing school sports, or just kickin' it with this brother and his trusty pup. Between the Long Island MacArthur Airport and the Brookhaven Calabro Airport (where LISC is located), planes were overhead all the time, but they never caught his fancy.
In fact, as Matt looks back in hindsight, he realizes he was a bit of a reserved kid. He was generally up for adventure, but he was also cautious about heights and was definitely not one for roller coasters.
School wasn't his thing. The repetition, the rote learning, the restrictive boundaries of it all; he didn't enjoy it. Except for history class. When Matt looked to his future, he figured he'd be a history teacher.
Life for Matt was on what felt like a predictable trajectory. He'd likely stay in his small town, probably work in a local school. Be where he always was. But the conformity of it all just didn't sit right. This traditional approach to adulthood was uncomfortable - and frankly, unwelcome. There had to be a different path.
... AND THEN SOMETHING UNEXPECTED HAPPENED
Matt took a year off after high school. He needed some time to figure out his next steps, get some work experience under his belt, and consider the possibility of college. . A few months in and a few odd jobs later, a friend offered him the opportunity to give video editing a try at Long Island Skydiving Center. His first day of training represented his first day on the dropzone.
As he watched the tandem skydiving videos he was charged with editing, he was gob-smacked. He'd never had such an up-close and super-personal view of skydiving. Never knew the gravity and glory of what was happening on the airfield just minutes from his house.
After two months of seeing it from the ground, he wanted to experience it from the sky. Matt convinced a friend to jump with him and invited his parents to watch. They were nervous. Matt was terrified.
Everything happened so fast. He'd closed his eyes on exit and missed the flips he'd asked his instructor to do with him right out of the door. Freefall was a blur. It was all unlike anything he'd ever experienced. He couldn't possibly process it all.
He had to do it again.
A month later, he and another pal jumped. No parents, no fanfare; less pressure. He LOVED it. He was present and aware, fully immersed in every amazing, empowering, life-changing facet of the experience. Matt internalized the feeling and carried it with him all summer.
IN IT TO WIN IT
When the skydiving season ended, Matt returned to Plan A and started school. It still wasn't his thing. He took a job at a deli and worked through the winter. He missed the dropzone though; the energy, the people, and the sense of community.
Upon start of the new skydiving season, he began working in the office again and a whole new aspect of the skydiving universe opened up. His knowledge of the sport doubled in short order and the itch to jump struck again.
Two or three weeks in, Matt did his third jump. A week later his fourth. By summer's end, Matt plans to bring his logbook total to 10.
It's official: Matt's been bitten by the skydiving bug. Which means, of course, that he's trying to convince all of his friends to jump with him. Several are up for it, others are hesitant, and all think he's the coolest person they know.
Now when Matt looks a year ahead, he sees nothing but blue skies.
His next step is to learn to pack parachutes - to support his progression, sure, but to also extend his appreciation for the craft and deepen his immersion within the sport. He's saving for Accelerated Free Fall Training (AFF) and is plotting a cross country trip with friends that will, without coincidence, take him through some of the country's most renowned drop zones.
The life of a skydiver is different from everything he's known. It's big. It's bold. It's laced with innumerable opportunities. His horizons are broader and brighter than he knew they could be and, for now, he's not looking down.
In his own words, Matt says "Skydiving has shown me that there's a whole other world out there. That it's good to let go of what's 'regular', what's expected by society. Opening yourself up to being uncomfortable or scared can give you some of the very best experiences."
We totally get it, Matt. Welcome to the tribe. Blue skies ahead!
At Long Island Skydiving Center, we recognize that everyone's journey is different. Whether you're ready for your first-ever jump or want to make a first-in-a-long-time jump, we're here for you. Join us!