90-Year-Old Former President George H.W. Bush Makes Parachute Jump
Former President George H.W. Bush celebrated his 90th birthday on Thursday by making a tandem parachute jump near his summer home in coastal Maine, delivering on a vow he made five years ago even though he can no longer use his legs.
The nation’s 41st president jumped from a helicopter at 6,000 feet harnessed to Sgt. 1st Class Mike Elliott, a retired member of the Golden Knights, the Army’s parachute team, near Kennebunkport. Elliott guided Bush to a gentle landing five years ago.
On Thursday morning, the helicopter picked up Bush outside his home, known as Walker’s Point. His family transported him from his wheelchair to the chopper, then sang "Happy Birthday" before it took off.
Bush could later be seen floating to the ground using a red, white and blue parachute. He landed safely near St. Ann’s Church, where friends and family had gathered, according to a spokesman, out of the sight of reporters.
"He had a big smile for the crowd. You could tell he was exhilarated," said Diana Untermeyer, a family friend from Houson. "He’s an amazing man. This is just another sign of that. I think that like most of America, our family loves him to pieces. It was just a real thrill to do this again."
Witnesses said Bush was greeted with a hug and a kiss from his wife, Barbara, and a hug from his son George. The family then left the landing zone without talking to reporters stationed nearby.
Hundreds of people had gathered on the rocky coast near the church to get a glimpse of the jump.
"He has a lot of courage. We need more like him," said David Morris, 79, of Melrose, Massachusetts. He’s one of several onlookers gathered on rocky coast outside church to watch.
"I think it’s wonderful. I hope I can jump out of a plane at 90," said Carol Schierl, 75, of Green Bay, Wisconsin,