88-year-old woman goes on first skydive
GREENEVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Naomi Hackmann once looked out at the clouds while traveling on an airline and wondered what it would be like to touch one.
The 88-year-old great-grandmother recently got her chance.
She went skydiving for the first time with JumpTN at the Greeneville Municipal Airport.
“It was absolutely marvelous,” Hackmann said after her jump early May 26.
Asked if she had a chance to grab a cloud, she replied with a huge smile, “I did. I just couldn’t get it to come down with me.”
The jump was an early birthday present from friends. Hackmann will be 89 in September.
Skydiving is something she has wanted to do for years, inspired by her airplane trips and footage of skydivers on television.
“I have wanted to sky dive for a long time,” she said. “I saw a group on television who were skydiving. They were grasping hands and jumping from cloud to cloud. They were having a ball. I thought, ‘I would like to do that.’”
Airline flights also were an inspiration for Hackmann’s desire to sky dive. “When you are on airline, you look out the window and see the clouds,” she said. “They are so beautiful. I have wanted to reach out and grab one.”
After arriving at JumpTN, Hackmann’s first order was watching a safety video that also explained the tandem jumping method for first-time jumpers to learn the sport. After watching the video, Hackmann was not hesitant about following through on her decision to skydive.
“I am ready to go now,” she said as the video ended.
As friends asked if she was ready as she waited for her group’s time to skydive, Hackmann’s wide smile always accompanied her affirmative reply. “I am like a child with a new toy,” she said.
There was a bit more to do before the jump: She was given some instructions about the tandem technique, and she demonstrated she could physically do the maneuvers needed in the jump and the landing. Angie Alley, co-owner of JumpTN, was the tandem jumper with Hackmann.
After getting into the jumpsuit and harness connecting her to Alley, she posed for photos with family and friends who gathered to watch her high-flying adventure.
The skydive itself was peaceful, Hackman said. “You could just see the whole world,” she said. “I tried to pick out places, but I wasn’t able to.”
Skydiving is not Hackmann’s only adventurous endeavor. Her daughter in Oregon took her to ride a zip line when she was 83. “It was amazing,” she said. “It is kind of up in the air too.”
Hackmann arrived in Greeneville from New Jersey with her now-late husband after they retired.
One of their daughters, JoAnn, attended Tusculum University and met her future husband there, Bill Lorch, also from New Jersey. Both got local jobs as teachers and settled in Greene County, and their parents followed many years afterwards.
Hackmann said that one of her daughters was encouraging of her jump while the other was not in favor of the idea.
That daughter may be in for some more anxiety: Talking with friends after her jump, Hackmann said she would not mind doing it again.
Information from: The Greeneville Sun, http://www.greenevillesun.com