Matt Yount travels the world to jump out of airplanes at some of the most exotic and interesting locations the planet has to offer and to share that experience with others as a tandem instructor. With more than 17,000 jumps in 14 countries, he has shared the sport of skydiving with too many students to count. Among his fellow skydivers, Yount--a USPA Safety and Training Advisor--is known as a spirited and safety-oriented boogie organizer. If there’s a beautiful view somewhere on Earth, there’s a good chance that he has seen it from high above.
Matt Yount is a totally dedicated tandem master—his passion for the sport shines through, with passengers’ safe and exciting experiences under his wing. –Wendy Smith, Parachutist profilee #20
Birthplace: Springfield, Missouri
Hobbies: Travel, movies and TV, Comic Con, ballroom dancing, scuba diving
Life Philosophy: “Drive fast, take chances.”
Container: United Parachute Technologies MicroSigma or Vector
Main Canopy: UPT Sigma 340, or whatever anyone gives me
Reserve Canopy: UPT VR360
Home Drop Zone: Earth
Year of First Jump: 1998
Licenses/Ratings: A-33207, C-32510, D-27920; Coach; AFF, Tandem, IAD and Static-Line Instructor; Tandem Examiner; International At-Large Safety and Training Advisor
Tandem Rated on: Eclipse, Racer, Strong
Associations: Icelandic Skydiving Federation, USPA
Number of Jumps: 17,000-plus
Largest completed formation: 32-way formation skydive around 2006
You have had the unique privilege of skydiving in so many exotic locations. What have you liked most?
These are some of the most unique places in the world, with the most amazing people. You go in there knowing that you’ll be one of the very few who has seen the location in this way. Few people can say they have seen the top of the Great Pyramid up close, or were eye-level with the summit of Everest or got to look out over the vast ocean and realize just how remote the Blue Hole really is. You get all of that, while making great memories.
Most people don’t know this about me:
I am a total geek about science fiction movies, and a true animal lover (except horses).
Is there one particular jump that stands out the most?
My first skydive over Mount Everest. This was also the first time I had jumped out of the United States. What I remember most was climbing out on the skid of the helicopter and realizing how big the Himalayas are. They are overwhelmingly large, and I felt very small. The view just takes your breath away (and you are on oxygen at this point).
What do you like most about the sport?
I like the camaraderie of skydivers. No matter where you go in the world, you will always have friends at a drop zone or boogie.
What do you like least about the sport?
People coming and going in and out of the sport. Accidents or fatalities where people are taken out of the sport too soon. Also, jumpers with egos.
Who have been your skydiving mentors?
Tom Noonan, Mike Wadkins, Ron Bell, Shauna Finley and Brian Wolford. All of them have been instrumental in me becoming the tandem instructor I am today. I count them as some of my nearest and dearest friends.
Has the loss of Tom Noonan—a major proponent of high-altitude jumping—made you feel a need to fill his shoes and keep his passion for these jumps alive?
I don’t think I could ever come close to filling Tom Noonan’s shoes. Tom was an amazing, unique individual who did things in a way that made you feel heard. He could help you understand things without ever making you feel like less of a person. He had a way of being open and comforting about the sport and always made you feel safe in your space and in the sky. Tom was the person who introduced me to the high-altitude space and exotic jump locations, and it was because of him that I got this desire to skydive the world. I feel honored and blessed that I get to do some of the most elite jumps in the world because of Tom. I hope he is looking down on me with a smile.
What are your future skydiving goals?
To be one of the few tandem instructors who have jumped all seven continents (five down, two to go). And then to be one of the few TIs who have jumped in all 50 states (40 down, 10 to go).
Any suggestions for students?
Take your time in the sport. Everything you see, eventually you will be able to do. Be open-minded to new ideas and new ways of learning. Travel to as many places and drop zones as you are able, so that you can get different outlooks on the sport. Learn to leave the comfort of your own drop zone.
Most embarrassing moment while in freefall:
Someone told me that if you are relaxed in freefall, you can fart, and I tried so hard to fart while in freefall, I nearly crapped my pants. I still haven’t been able to. I guess I’m not relaxed enough.
What is your most significant life achievement?
Marrying my wife.
Suggestions for USPA:
Reconsider moving USPA to a different location closer to more skydivers, in order to allow skydivers to see USPA headquarters and its operations. This could reduce membership costs and give USPA an opportunity to subsidize costs with a USPA store.
Best skydiving moment?
The first time I went up to do an Everest jump, I broke my ankle walking down a set of stairs in Namche Bazar. Tom Noonan told me that I wasn’t going to be able to jump, and I didn’t agree with him. I said “I didn’t need a foot to jump out of a helicopter and I definitely don’t need a foot to land.” He told me that if I could walk the 1,000-foot climb up the hill to the DZ, I could jump. So I spent more than two hours walking and crawling up the mountain with a handmade cane and a sherpa, and made it to the landing area. I proceeded to do my tandem jump and land standing up.
Explain Matt Yount in five words or fewer:
Outgoing, talkative, fun-loving, authentic, forgiving.