Birthplace: Springfield, NJ
Occupation: Owner of Ranch ProShop
Main Canopy: Crossfire 139
Reserve: Nano 143
Year of First Jump: 1992 at Skydive East
# of jumps: 6500
# of cutaways: 8
License/Ratings: D license, AFFI, Pro, S&TA, FAA Master Rigger
Pre-jump superstitions: Putting on my “Ring of Power”. I put my wedding band on a string and wear it around my neck when I jump.
What made you start skydiving?
One night, my brother and I were at a sports bar watching football. At half-time, they showed the 200 way. So we said, “Let’s go do that.”
What is your jump philosophy?
Don’t kill me and I will try not to kill you.
Of all of your skydives, is there one that stands out the most? A sunset jump at Lake Havasu, on the border between CA and AZ. We did a tracking dive above this amazing background and then, as we swooped on to the beach, there was a band playing in front of hundreds of people. Before I would even get a toggle out of my hand, someone handed me a beer.
Who has been your skydiving mentor?
Hank Bungay, Kim Emerson, Carol Sternberg, Golden Knights, Airspeed, PD Factory Team, JC Colclasure.
What safety item do you think is more important or most often neglected?
Pre-jump gear inspection.
What is your greatest advice for the new jumper?
When the shit hits the fan, don’t panic!
What has been your most embarrassing moment in skydiving (in the sky or on the DZ)?
Leaving my gear bag in Phoenix Airport, going to the World Meet at Skydive Arizona in Eloy and not realizing I left it there until the next day.
Is there one jump you would like to do over again?
The one when I broke my leg – it was your every day landing, I just caught my ankle the wrong way and…snap
What is your favorite thing about The Ranch?
What is your favorite sport (other than skydiving)?
What has been your best skydiving moment?
Anytime I let go of an AFF student for the first time – seeing the expression on their faces when they realize they are flying!
What has been your greatest competition moment?
Winning that silver medal at Nationals with R2G…I have to tell you, I am so proud of those kids. They worked so hard and I had the easy slot.
What has been your weirdest skydiving moment?
My first tandem. My friend, Drew Lipinski, was getting his tandem rating and needed to take experienced jumpers first. I had never done a tandem (because I started with AFF) and decided to do it naked. Right before landing, I thought, “This could tickle.”
Most people don’t know this about me
I’m an Islamic Jew. My father is from Turkey and is Muslim. My mother is a first generation American Jew.
What’s the story behind the nickname “Sonic”?
My brother, Levent, and I started jumping together. After a couple of AFF jumps, the smaller instructors had up jump with Hank Bungay, the biggest instructor because we were falling too fast. Then, one night at the Bonfire, after jumping with each of us, Hank said, “They were right. You guys fall fast, like sonic speed. Your guys are like…the Sonic Brothers.
Pet Peeves: People smoking near the hangar or vaping inside the hangar. Not cool.
Describe yourself in 5 words:
Fat, happy, sensitive, safe, and passionate