Tell me who you are.
My name is Stephen Hatzkjsdhfkjhkmnbadkjha… but everyone calls me Hatz because they cannot spell or pronounce my last name.
Come on Hatz -- its not that long
What do you do for work?
Oh boy, that’s a loaded question. I was with a friend at a boogie and someone asked me that and after thinking about it for a couple seconds, I responded, “lets just say Im an accountant.” It was at that point they thought I was a serial killer. I am a full-time accountant, full-time computer/phone repair/sales person, newly minted commercial helicopter pilot, weekend tandem instructor, and gear sales consultant, along with many MANY other things. I’m even now in the PPE business!
Jack of all trades...
How did you become interested in skydiving? When did you start?
Long story, I dreamed of being an astronaut as a kid, I loved the sky. Astronaut was not feasible, then I thought pilot, ultimately “settled” for skydiver. Little did I know it would be one of the most awesome decisions I’ve made.
I had done about 4-5 tandems before I decided, this is way too much fun to not learn to do on my own. The people that I’ve met along the way have been some of the most incredible people I’ve met in my life.
I got your toes ;-P
What is your most memorable moment as a skydiver?
I don’t like to place favorites, collectively, all the specialty jumps I’ve done have been some of the most amazing experiences of my life.
I had a few goals in skydiving, to jump the palm in Dubai, to jump the Great Blue Hole in Belize, and to jump demos. In my 7 years officially in the sport, I’ve manage to achieve all 3 and then some.
The Blue Hole has always been a dream of mine, I remember even telling one of my AFF instructors and DZ momma's, find me a way to jump the blue hole, even at 50 jumps. A few years later, I met Rich Grimm and we arranged with some good friends of mine to go. When the plan all came together and I was sitting under canopy 65 miles away from land, it all dawned on me that it finally all came together. I will never forget that feeling of accomplishment.*
What made you become a tandem instructor?
That’s actually a funny story, I always told myself if I ever become an instructor, it would be an AFF instructor or something. I had a coach rating for a couple years many moons ago, and I renewed my USPA license online, not paying the fee to renew my rating. I remember Rich Winstock from Skydive Sussex sat me down saying why did I do that. I said, IDK, I don’t really coach anyone, I can’t renew my license online, it's annoying. He says to me, think about how hard you worked to get that coach rating, (it's true, it was grueling), don’t ever give up ratings, you should get a TANDEM RATING!
I laughed hard at that! I was just ready to give up my coach rating guy, I don’t even want to become a tandem master… next week I was in a tandem certification class with Michael Wadkins (who is freaking awesome!) and it was all up-hill after that.
I realized soon enough, that I really enjoy sharing the excitement and thrill of the first skydive with people! I never get tired of hearing where their goggles are and if I wingsuit (I do/did) - I never realized how complete my skydiving career would be without being able to share these first experiences and literally change peoples lives!
Tandem Jumps over the pyramids -- Oh Yeahhh
What is your favorite part of the skydiver life?
The people, 100%. You meet some interesting people in this sport, it's a gathering of some of the most interesting people I’ve ever met and I consider many of them my good friends!*
What is your least favorite part of the lifestyle?
The fact that dropzones are not near metropolitan areas. Sitting in traffic at the end of a long weekend to get back to my city home is not fun. Still totally worth it.
Tell us about a day in your life.
Depends on the day. If its a weekday, 7 am start, check all my social media for as long as it takes for me to get motivated to get out of bed. Do some work at home, maybe a workout. Go to my office, work till at least 8-9pm, sprinkle in some vacation planning in between. Finish up some side projects at home till midnight ish, finally answer all the unanswered texts from during the day. I either get back to you ASAP or at like 10 pm lol.
That smile though
Do You travel often?
Actually yes! Traveling is one of my passions, I literally work to travel and see new places (& jump them if I can!)
Hard to smile with that in your mouth
What's next for you and your adventures?
Well, I'm pretty excited about becoming a commercial helicopter pilot, I hope to combine my love of skydiving and flying. Helicopter jumps coming your way!
Where would you like to see yourself in 10 years?
In Space, High Fiving Elon Musk
Send it Elon -- Space man
What was your favorite boogie and why?
There’s that F word! I don’t place favorites, they’re all great!
I do particularly enjoy Invasion for NYE and I’ve heard good things about Summerfest but never been.
MOAB boogie in Utah is Ahhhmazing, especially if you hold a C/D license and do the off-site jumps. The vibe down to the night party is cool there, great people, great sights.
Puerto Rico is also a must-do at least once in your skydiving career. Cheap, good fun times. Oh and Panama!! Just stop me here, I can keep rambling about boogies, they’re all great!
My particular favorite type of boogies however, are the exotic ones, I’ve had the opportunity to jump in some cool places such as Maldives or even the pyramids of Giza.
Lets do a tandem out of a c130
What is the craziest thing you have done at a boogie?
Jumped onto a WW2 practically uninhabited island in the middle of the South Pacific wearing nothing but a Speedo and a rig. Decision mistakes were made but it all panned out OK.
Do you have any advice for a new skydiver?
Take your time, do it right (that’s a song right?) Don’t rush to downsize, follow your dreams and passions, do what you can to achieve them and don’t let anyone crap on you for whatever you want to do, you like that Navigator 280? You do you!
Do you have any advice for anyone looking to progress in this sport?
Don’t listen to what I have to say, listen to someone more experienced :P
Nah, same thing as a new skydiver pretty much.
I've heard you pal around with some guy named Steve Barahona, what's that like?
Exhausting. Does he send you as many memes as he sends me? I swear I want to call whatever fire company he works for and “Karen” complain. But through all those memes, we have done some pretty incredible jumps and adventures together. I strive to be a better camera flyer for him as he needs to get that perfect selfie, and if I miss the shot, I never hear the end of it. I still love the dude no matter how many times we spat! By the way, somewhere above I mentioned something about skydiving in a speedo on a deserted island, yeah that was Steve's idea. He looks better in a Speedo than I do, but bless my heart, I’ll still wear it!
I hear you are also a pilot, tell us how you started and what's next in that aspect of your life?
Yeah, that’s been a wild ride too! I'm now a commercial heli pilot, I'm all about it! I can’t wait to share that new passion with my fellow skydivers, stay tuned!*
If you were a drink what would you be and why?
You wouldn’t want to drink it. It would be confusing, sweet and spicy at the same time. Definitely an XL glass. It would mess you up. This drink just doesn’t exist in nature. Its like something a 5 year old would make if he broke into the liquor cabinet.
After a few of them drinks, how would you feel if I whispered “cream pie” in your ear
Being this is posted publicly, I'm going to have to plead the 5th on this question. If I ever run for president, they’ll DEFINITELY question me on my answer to this.
I will tell you this, I have been told on several occasions, “I look like a guy that likes cake”
How he really feels about it !!!
Thank you Stephen for taking the time to do this with me. I am glad to call you a friend. Looking forward to our next boogie.
Stay safe and blue skies