Robert “Stu” Williamson celebrated his 100th birthday in high style, jumping out of a plane at 14,000 feet. The Seattle native had already been skydiving the year before when he turned 99, but decided to commemorate his century of life with another jump.
Joined by family and friends, Williamson boarded a plane supplied by Skydive Snohomish and rose to 14,000 feet before taking the plunge. After landing, he shouted, cheered “Let’s do it again!” as he hugged his grandson and instructor Vladimir Ursachi.
“You get a real shot of adrenaline when you look out the door, then it’s a real piece of cake after that,” Williamson said. He is now the the oldest Skydive Snohomish diver ever.
His family, meanwhile, is “still somewhat incredulous” regarding “his sudden interest in falling from the sky,” saying that he’s always been rather reserved and “never had much use for sports” when he was younger.
“You get a real shot of adrenaline when you look out the door, then it’s a real piece of cake after that,” he said. Adding, that skydiving at his age makes sense. “I’d done lots of things,” he said, “but I’d never jumped out of an airplane.”
“After the parachute opens, he is a completely different person,” Ursachi added.
Ursachi has jumped with several other senior skydivers, including a 96-year-old skydiver in 2004 and an 88-year-old woman who went up for her tenth jump right after Williamson.
Williamson was inspired to dive by Matt Morse, a veteran skydiver, who works in the wellness department of his retirement community. Now, Williamson hopes to break the world record for oldest skydiver.
Ursachi, who accompanied Williamson on both of his jumps, said his enthusiasm is infectious. “He’s cracking jokes, waving his arms – it’s wonderful.”
In order to break the world record, Williamson would have to surpass a Kenny Meyer, a 102-year-old man from Union Township, New Jersey, who set the record last year. Meyer set a world record after besting a 101-year-old British man who had claimed the honor a couple of months before.
Companies, like Skydiving.com, specialize in scheduling training and skydives for older participants, ensuring their safety and comfort.
In the US, you must 18 years old to skydive and be able to legally sign a waiver and binding contract. The maximum weight limit for tandem skydivers is 220lbs. If you are over 70 years of age, you must be in good health to participate.