|Photo by Tyson, 5 June 10 (click to enlarge)|
|From USA POPS|
The owner of 17 planes during his lifetime, he took up skydiving at the age of 88. He became a skydiving enthusiast, observing each subsequent birthday by jumping from altitudes of about 12,000 feet. In 1992, when he was 91, he became the oldest male tandem skydiver in the world. In 1995, Salyer, then 94, and a 71-year-old son, a 40-year-old grandson and a 15-year-old great-grandson set a record for a multigenerational jump.There are no actual age limits for skydiving. I am a member of Skydivers Over Sixty and look forward to joining Jumpers Over Seventy in a few years. There is a group for Jumpers Over Eighty. The link under the jumper in red takes you to information about those groups. Anyone who has ever made any kind of parachute jump and is over the age of sixty (or seventy or eighty) qualifies you to join.
Why would I stop? Well, I stopped teaching skydiving after 12 years of instructing because I didn't want to take that kind of risk any more. I waited until I turned 65, and I figured if I was old enough to retire from a desk job, it might behoove me to start skydiving for fun again. When we moved here in 2008, I let all my ratings expire and now only jump for fun.
The first thing that keeps anybody safe is currency. Here in Washington state, you don't stay current during the winter months unless you travel to other places. I have also stopped doing that, because my instructing would pay for my trips to Arizona or Florida, but now I am living on my retirement income. It's just as well: I'm finding so many other things to do with my time and energy, and skydiving is quite demanding of both.
So every spring I need to get over the "Spring Hump" and get back in the air. It's easy to see why someone might not quite get around to it, and your gear needs to be inspected and in date. There's also the aspect of becoming more frail as you get older, and there's no getting around the fact that older people have a tendency to break easier. I'll stop skydiving, but right now I don't have to. Just thinking about never making another skydive makes me sad.
In 1975, Smart Guy wrote an article for the skydiving magazine Parachutist, called "Patterns in the Sky," and he coined the word "airgasm" to describe how skydiving feels. I love the way the word captures the experience!