Ivan Briggs recently turned 90 and knew exactly how he wanted to celebrate his 90th birthday. Unlike most people his age, Mr. Briggs didn’t settle for cake, balloons, and a party hat but rather to jump from an airplane miles above ground.
The 90-year-old Titusville native decided to jump from directly over the Kennedy Space Center just as his idol George Bush Sr. did to celebrate his 90th birthday. Despite being his first time a couple of thousand feet above ground preparing to skydive those with him said that the Briggs didn’t even skip a beat and jumped right out like a pro! As a matter of fact he was a cool as a cucumber!
When asked to comment Briggs said that “Age has never been a problem for me. If you’re feeling well and you’re able to do the things you want to do. … Age does not become a variable.”
Interestingly it was Briggs’ son Raymond who called his dad with the opportunity to jump, and it was a no-brainer. Both Briggs’ and his son loaded up their truck and headed over to Arthur Dunn Airpark in Titusville. Ivan didn’t feel afraid but rather looked forward to jumping. According to Briggs, the instructors had set up everything perfectly, all the safety checks were done, and so there was no fear and little safety concern if any. Anxiety was non-existent according to Briggs, and he was ready to get on with the jump as soon as he heard the word.
As the plane climbed and it came time for Ivan to step off the airplane into the seemingly thick clouds, he was closely watched by Carol, his wife for 65 years. She waited below along with other family members who eagerly awaited and prayed for Ivan’s safe return to the ground. Ivan said that his wife wasn’t the least bit concerned mainly because she heard about him wanting to jump forever. His wife was perhaps glad that it was finally over and she’d not have to hear about it anymore.
Ivan free-fell for the initial one minute and fifteen seconds after jumping. A tandem skydive meant that he was strapped onto one of the instructors. Ivan described not being able to breathe for the first few seconds because of the pressure, but there isn’t any fear. However, Ivan described the setting as being beautiful once the parachute was deployed.
Ivan describes the view from the sky
Ivan described the sensation of floating and being able to look around and see the Space Center and the area he lives in. He pointed to the Indian River saying that the view of the river is excellent on a clear day. As Ivan hit the ground, he lifted his feet as though he was trying to bobsled and skid brilliantly on the grass. His first words were “I’m trying to think of the word… Awesome is probably good. Breathtaking. Exciting.”
Ivan’s family cheered on the 90-year-old with big smiles as they watched the action from a safe distance on the ground. His son Don speaking about Ivan said “He plays tennis, he walks over two miles in the morning at 6 a.m. He’s involved in Kiwanis, a number of things. He’s an amazing specimen. He’s got more energy than anyone you know.”
Ivan’s granddaughter, Kristen Briggs has since posted a video of their grandad jumping on Facebook which has already received over 7000 views and counting. There are literally hundreds of comments praising the 90-year old, and admiring the feat.
A WWII Navy veteran
Ivan is a true American, and a resident of Titusville since 1984. He is a WWII veteran and a former employee of General Electric. He then joined Kennedy Space Center as a bus driver and became Kiwanis Club president as well as a member of the Salvation Army. The energetic senior also makes it a point to pick up all the trash every day in the morning as he walks between Garden Street and 405 Singleton Avenue.
Ivan has four kids and is Grandad to 13, and a great grandfather of another six. He is a regular at the First Baptist Church of Mims and recently received a lifetime achievement award from the Kiwanis Club. It is the highest honor bestowed by the club. So, while many may see the jump as being very impressive, Ivan has a lifetime of accolades and achievements.
When asked what his secret to a happy life was? Ivan replied “I would say a positive attitude and perhaps the most important is my strong Christian belief that there is a purpose to life and that the Lord has a plan for your life and if you’re willing to follow him, that plan will come true. It’s that combination.”