Rick Harrison, Tracy Walker, Chris McDougall, Lonnie Bissonnette, I would have expected a “thanks, but no thanks” reply to an interview request from any of these personalities. Busy, busy men with their plates loaded full of commitments all vying for their time and attention. So which of these men were the most difficult to garner a personal interview with? None of the before mentioned; all gracious with their time and fully committed to partnering with me to create a stamp in time with their interview pieces.
However, this guy, Matt Frohlich, at times it seemed as though the US Congress had a better chance of balancing the budget than of him coming forth with his answers.
The month and year, November 2010, this is when fellow BASE jumper Jamie Crawford wrote to me and suggested that I interview Matt. Yes that says, 2010. Jamie sent me Matt’s email and telephone number and I sent Matt an introduction letter and basic questions to get the ball rolling. Since that first set of questions I sent two more sets, all went unanswered. At one point I wrote to Jamie letting him know I appreciated his help, but it just wasn’t working out.
Matt and I remained in touch, becoming friends and during the past 14 months we have spent a fair amount of time conversing via online chat. All of which was off the record, until the 2012 Arizona BASE Boogie.
This event, the brainchild of Matt and his fiancé Kat has set him to talking. After completing an article on the event itself, I managed to keep him talking and answering questions up to a point. I had finally learned the secret of interviewing Matt, only ask him questions he wants to answer.
Question number 24: On a scale of 1-10 with 1 being the worst, how would you rank doing these interviews?
Matt: Haha, these interviews are great. It makes it even better when I conveniently skip the questions I don’t want to answer!
Was he worth the wait? Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “No great man ever complains of want of opportunity.” At the age of 31, Matt might not yet be considered a great man by some, but there is no doubt he will not want for opportunity as he is the type of person who creates his own opportunities.
With that being said, I present to you Matt Frohlich, a young man blessed with the intelligence to navigate the air in many venues, the skill level to “go hard” at a record pace in BASE jumping and the charm to be a politician-circus barker all rolled into one.
- Name: Matt Frohlich
- Age: 31
- Marital Status: Engaged to Kat Noonan
- Children: 0
- Location: Arizona
- Hometown: Landrum, South Carolina
- Education: Bachelors in Pol Sci/History. Almost completed second Bachelor’s in Aviation Science.
- Number of BASE jumps: 1000+
- Year of first Jump: 2006
- BASE number: 1164
- Year of first Skydive: Made 1 AFF jump in 1999, but didn’t really start until 2006.
- Container: 3 Apex DP’s and TL’s on the way
- Canopy: Vented FLik 266 and 293
- Profession: Pilot, University Student
- Nickname: Matt, Frohlich, Fro…
First up, every-ones favorite question…
1. What will your epitaph read?
I’m bionic, so I don’t have to worry about it. Having an ankle full of metal counts as bionic, doesn’t it?
2. What is your greatest fear in life?
I fear missing out on life because of fear and I don’t just mean in BASE. I try to push myself into uncomfortable situations and consciously ignore fear. The more fear dictates your actions, the more it ultimately controls you and defines who you are as a person.
3. When someone contacts you and asks you to personally teach them to BASE jump, what advice do you offer them first?
It depends on the situation. If they are ready, then I am more than willing to teach. It really is based on the individual though. I hae met a few guys that really weren’t ready. I am not afraid to offer advice but I’m not willing to teach someone who is unprepared. Skydiving and building canopy skills is pretty cheap insurance in the long run. If someone is looking for a short cut that they are really just hurting themselves in the long run.
4. At 5 years in the sport and just over 1000 jumps, do you consider yourself of veteran of BASE? If not, at what stage in your career do you consider yourself?
I’ve never really thought of it as advancing from one stage to the next. I have advanced in the sport in the sense that as my experience level increased, I began jumping more technical objects, flying wing suits and free-falling lower.
5. For you personally do you view BASE jumping as a sport, stunt, hobby or exploration into flight? Or is it something else altogether?
It could be any of those, depending on the situation. For me, it is a sport, hobby and a lifestyle. I started jumping because I wanted the experience. Five years later and it hasn’t changed. However, the friends I have met along the way really took it to another level.
6. What is your jump philosophy and what shaped that philosophy? “Go Big or Go Home”
You really need to stop reading Douggs book.
At the end of the day though, I want to enjoy what I’m doing. I push when I feel like pushing and relax when I feel like relaxing. This is supposed to be fun! If I am risking my life, I want to enjoy it!
7. What do you do to de-stress?
Easy! I go jumping or karting. Exploring is always fun and just staying at home and watching a movie or reading is good too. I am usually pretty good at finding ways to entertain myself.
8. Do you foresee “enough ever being enough” for you when it comes to seeking out new adventures?
Nope. I wouldn’t be able to do what I want to do in 100 lifetimes so I have to make the best of what time I have. Even if I got bored with BASE one day, I have a whole list of other things I want to do.
9. Does seeing other jumpers’ injuries or additions to the fatality list make you stop and question the ultimate risk involved? And if so, how long does the question linger with you?
It doesn’t get any easier when it happens, but I came into BASE knowing the stakes. Nothing that has happened has made me think about retirement. Aside from a few bruises and a twisted ankle, I have been injury-free in BASE. I don’t think for a second that I am invincible. If I ever get that attitude, then I will sell my gear that day and never make another jump.
10. Do you see a common thread in all jumpers, regardless of location, gender or skill level?
There is a common thread among most jumpers and camaraderie between jumpers that I haven’t found in any other sport or activity. Everybody has their own reason for getting into BASE. My friends in BASE are closer than any friends I have ever had. These are the guys that can risk their lives and giggle about it afterwards like little kids. It is ridiculous and it is awesome all at the same time. There is a shared experience that few people ever get to take part in.
11. Do you feel that with the growth in First Jump Courses offered or mentoring services that it’s become too easy for people to get into BASE?
I have no problem with FJC’s. I started with Tom Aiello’s FJC. It would have been much more difficult for me to get started without one. I never had a home drop zone so getting with a local crew would have been pretty much impossible. If someone is determined to start jumping, then they are going to stat one way or another. Giving someone the tools to do it more safely isn’t a bad thing.
After my FJC, I linked up with as many other local jumpers as possible but transitioning from a nice bridge to technical antennas was spicy. I had a couple of close calls and over time came to realize that with the heavy influx of new jumpers, advance training could actually be very beneficial. Over the last six months, I have a course designed to transition beginner students away from the bridge and cliffs and antennas. I really think that being on an object with a teacher is the best way to learn and really understand what is going on. Ideally, every student would go home to an experienced mentor. That is not always the case. The goal of the course is to bridge the gap for students that either want intensive more training or who will go home without a mentor.
12. Name a jumper who you most admire and why so.
That is a hard one. I really have a lot of respect for a lot of different jumpers. I don’t have anyone specific in mind, but I love seeing the guys that go hard and just live without regrets and what if’s.
13. What was your family’s reaction to your BASE jumping?
Nobody in my family was too happy. When I first told them I was going to skydive, I am pretty sure they were convinced I was going to die. By the time they got used to that, I told them about BASE. I never say any reason to hide what I did; I didn’t when I was younger and I don’t hide it today. I prefer to be upfront about what I do. Eventually, they warmed up to the idea. My parents have come out to Bridge Day a few times and my Mom even came out in the middle of the night to watch me jump a 240 foot antenna. My Mom loves BASE jumpers. We are generally loud and goofy so she apparently finds us pretty entertaining.
14. Have you ever been busted on a jump? If so, how did you handle it?
I have never been busted…and with any luck, I will keep it that way! I have made myself disappear quickly a few times but that is about it.
15. How much do you adhere to the old school BASE ethics in comparison to openly discussing and advocating BASE jumping?
BASE is becoming more and more accepted than in the past. I agree with the idea of maintaining and protecting sites and respecting other jumpers. Some exits have taken a ridiculous amount of work to find and open. If they are sensitive exit points, then follow the simple rules of asking the locals. At the end of the day, the ethics debate really comes down to showing each other respect. That goes for both the experienced and new jumper.
A. What is more frightening, planning a wedding or standing on the edge of an exit point? That depends on the exit point.
What was the biggest challenge in your life this past year? Paper or plastic? Next!
For your viewing pleasure: 2012 Arizona BASE Boogie edited Matt and Kat
Subscribe to Blue Skies Magazine to read my article with Matt Frohlich and Kat Noonan regarding the 2012 Arizona BASE Boogie in the March/2012 issue.
Many thanks to Jamie Crawford, Matt Frohlich, Kat Noonan, Hank Caylor, Jeff BASE and Steve DaFonte for their contributions to this article.