Cottonwood man fulfills skydiving dream at age 82

Staff photo by Angela De Welles

After his skydiving experience a friend asked Mattoon if he would do it again. Mattoon replied "Sure. Tomorrow?"

And skydiving wasn't even his first try at something most people would be afraid to do at half his age. Mattoon has been hang gliding, taken a hot air balloon trip and ridden in a biplane, all since turning 80. He's a pretty adventurous guy, according to friends.

"He's always mentioned that he's wanted to jump," said Debbie Smith, friend and an old neighbor of Mattoon. "That's pretty cool … he's not afraid to try new things."

Besides being daring in his later years, Mattoon was courageous in his younger days as well. He served in the military and fought during World War II. So maybe skydiving wasn't such a big jump by comparison.

"At my age, it's just one of those things I haven't done yet and I better do it," Mattoon said.

He lives near the Cottonwood Airport and one day decided to drive by and find out about Skydive Cottonwood. He talked with employees and decided to really do it. Before the jump all he expected was "a nice ride."

"I'm too old to get nervous," Mattoon said.

He jumped in tandem with Matt Aman who has years of experience under his belt and about 5,000 jumps.

The difference between Skydive Cottonwood and other places that offer the sport is that Skydive Cottonwood flies clients around Sedona and Jerome before they jump, according to Aman.

He said it's about a 25-minute tour, a 40-second jump and about a six-minute parachute ride down.

"Once that parachute's open, it's really quiet," Aman said.

After some instruction, Mattoon was ready to go. The plane reached 10,000 feet before Mattoon and Aman leaped out. Friends and family members were there to watch as the two traveled at speeds up to 120 miles per hour.

Son Steve Mattoon said he didn't know what to think when his dad first mentioned his plans.

"My first impression was, hmm," he said. "After a while, I said 'go for it, just nail the landing'."

Mattoon did nail that landing and said it was quite a ride.

"I'd recommend it to anyone," Mattoon said. "It was great."

Cut lines

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Staff photo by Angela De Welles

Skydive Cottonwood takes clients on a 25-minute tour of Sedona and Jerome before a jump.

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Staff photo by Angela De Welles

Matt Aman of Skydive Cottonwood instructs Tom Mattoon on the skydiving essentials before going up in the sky.

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Staff photo by Angela De Welles

Matt Aman helps Tom Mattoon with a jump suit and harness before the two go skydiving Thursday afternoon.

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Staff photo by Angela De Welles

Demonstrating with a wooden doll, Matt Aman of Skydive Cottonwood shows Tom Mattoon the basics of skydiving.

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