Wednesday, July 17, 2013
80-year-old North Texan skydives with daughter and granddaughter
It was on his bucket list.
FAIRVIEW Fairview resident Sonny Campbell crossed an item off his bucket list Sunday by taking part in a three-generation skydive with his daughter and granddaughter.
Almost a month after his 80th birthday, Campbell signed out the requisite forms, participated in about an hour of training, and strapped himself to a man intent on back flipping from an airplane at 10,000 feet.
“You have an option,” said Hank Schraeder, owner of Skydive Tandem Greenville, as they prepared for the jump. “I climb all the way out on the steps with my students and we do a backflip. We can do one, two, or three backflips, but you have to tell me how many before we leave. Pick a number.”
As a much younger man, Campbell had jumped from a plane five times to qualify as a paratrooper while attending officer candidate school in the Army National Guard. The last jump took place July 10, 1954 at Fort Benning, Georgia.
“I've always said when I turned 80, that's my bucket list,” Campbell said while filling out forms for Sunday's jump.
Campbell spent his career as a central office engineer with several telephone companies, planning the construction of offices and corporate campuses. He retired after working for Motorola for 30 years, and as an older man, set about reuniting with his past.
He hadn't planned on jumping with his daughter, Jeannie Goerlitz, and granddaughter, Jamie Lescher. That came as a pleasant surprise, and other members of his family, including his wife Celia, were on hand to watch them descend.
The three took part in a tandem skydive, which saw them connected with an experienced jumper who did what was needed to ensure a safe jump. Campbell was connected to Schraeder. They traveled at 120 miles per hour together and did two backfips.
"It reminded me of diving into a deep pool," Goerlitz said about the jump. She brought two bottles of champagne to celebrate.
" ... Your ears fill up. They become clogged, and there's so much air going up your noise it feels like you're diving into water. It was unlike anything I thought it would feel like. I'm so glad I'm on the ground.”
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