Betty Diem, 84, had already lived of adventure as an Air Force nurse when she proposed a challenge to her friend Frannie Lock, 85 – skydiving. Diem and Lock, who both take part in a balance class at Wesley Enhanced Living (WEL), decided they were up for the test and signed up for a tandem skydive through WEL.
“I’ve flown a lot. So, I’ve just never jumped out of a plane,” Diem said.
Lisa Haino, who works with the WEL Wish Program, helped the women check the thrill off their bucket list.
“If it’s something that they want to do, then we will encourage them. Age is just a number,” Haino said.
WEL’s website states that, “At WEL we bring our mission to life by creating communities that empower our residents to take the lead, stay involved, engaged, recognized and connected. Our staff is committed to nurturing the distinct educational, recreational, social, and spiritual pursuits of each resident. We are more than communities with welcoming living spaces, delicious dining options, and outstanding amenities. Our communities are places to live with unlimited possibilities. Each day, the choice is yours: optimize your health, move your body, feed your mind, pursue your passions, spark your creativity, or deepen your spirit.”
Lock was supported by her children, who showed up at the airfield on the day of the dive. They had their doubts though.
“They’re sitting right over there waiting for me to jump. They think I’m crazy,” Lock said.
The jump came after months of preparation and planning.
Lock and Diem enjoyed the experience of a lifetime, but can’t agree if they would do it again.
“It’s a little scary coming out of the plane,” Diem said, who’s up for a second jump.
The women took part in the jump at Skydive Philadelphia, 30 minutes from downtown Philadelphia.
The company promises to exceed jumpers’ expectations.
“At Skydive Philadelphia, your skydive is made from 12,000 to 14,000 feet! The highest, most exciting skydive available, out of the safest aircraft serving Philadelphia! When 20th Century Fox needed the best skydiving airplane for their movie Point Break, they chose ours. That’s right, that was our plane used in all the skydiving scenes for the movie. You can skydive out of the exact same plane,” says the skydiving site.
Many people wait years before attempting their first skydive, but as Diem and Lock proved, it’s never too late.
“I always wanted to jump out of a perfectly good airplane…it’s a shame I waited so long to do it. Matt was my instructor and he made it one of the most awesome experiences of my life. You can’t do that just once!” Joseph Yurko, another late bloomer said.
Skydive Philadelphia recommends that first timers begin with a tandem skydive.
“The first-time jumper exits the aircraft from an altitude of 10,000 to 14,000 feet and experiences 45 to 60 seconds of free fall. At 5,000 feet, the instructor deploys a huge ram-air parachute designed for two. The student can have their choice of a gentle or thrilling parachute ride to the ground, where they should experience a soft landing,” their website says.