90-year-old former president makes parachute jump - 7News Boston WHDH-TV

90-year-old former president makes parachute jump

Posted: Updated:
KENNEBUNKPORT, Maine (AP) - Former President George H.W. Bush has celebrated his 90th birthday by making a tandem parachute jump near his summer home in Maine.
  
The 41st president jumped out of a helicopter Thursday while harnessed to a retired member of the Army's parachute team.
  
He could be seen floating to the ground using a red, white and blue parachute. A spokesman says he landed safely and softly in Kennebunkport, out of the sight of reporters.
  
With the jump, Bush made good on a promise from five years ago, when he also celebrated his birthday by skydiving.
  
The first time Bush jumped from an airplane was when his plane was shot down in World War II over the Pacific.
  
Thursday marked his eighth jump. He can no longer use his legs because of a form of parkinsonism.
  
THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.
  
Former President George H.W. Bush can no longer use his legs, but he isn't letting that stop him from keeping a vow he made five years ago: to jump from an aircraft on his 90th birthday, which is Thursday.
  
"It's a wonderful day in Maine -- in fact, nice enough for a parachute jump," the nation's 41st president announced on Twitter.
  
Bush intends to make a tandem jump from a helicopter harnessed to Sgt. 1st Class Mike Elliott, a retired member of the Golden Knights, the Army's parachute team, near his summer home, spokesman Jim McGrath said. Elliott guided Bush to a gentle landing five years ago.
  
The announcement was kept secret until the last minute, partly to give Bush himself the option of bagging it. The forecast Thursday called for clouds and scattered showers across the southern Maine coast.
  
McGrath said Bush likes both a surprise and an adrenaline rush.
  
"It's vintage George Bush," he said. "It's that passion for life. It's wanting to set a goal, wanting to achieve it. I'm sure part of it is sending a message to others that even in your retirement years you can still find challenges."
  
The first time Bush jumped from an airplane was when his plane was shot down in World War II over the Pacific. Later, he decided to jump from a plane of his own accord and marked his 75th, 80th and 85th birthdays by skydiving.
  
He said on his 85th birthday that he'd like to do it again on his 90th. Thursday's jump would be his eighth.
  
Other birthday festivities included a private dinner with more than 200 relatives and friends, including some from his White House days: press secretary Marlin Fitzwater, White House counsel Boyden Gray and political director Ron Kaufman, McGrath said. His children, including former President George W. Bush and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, will be there, McGrath said.
  
Kennebunkport is a special place for the president. As a boy, he visited the family home at Walker's Point every summer, except during World War II. The retreat was later dubbed his "summer White House."
  
During his presidential years, Bush was known for jogging, tennis and fast-paced golf but now uses a wheelchair or scooter because of a form of parkinsonism that has robbed him of use of his legs.
  
"He's lost his mobility, but he hasn't lost his heart. He's still the genuine person that we've come to cherish," said Ken Raynor, a friend and pro at the Cape Arundel Golf Club.
  
While his activities are now limited, Bush still fulfills his need for speed on his boat, Fidelity. "He's always loved going fast. He loves the speed. He loves the adrenaline," McGrath said.
  
Jon Meacham, a Pulitzer Prize-winning author and historian who is writing a book about Bush, said the former president is used to being in motion, so it isn't easy for him to slow down.
  
The president feels lucky nonetheless, Meacham said.
  
"He had a remarkable great run of good health and good family and good friends," he said. "So I know his chief view of life at 90 is one of immense gratitude. He's very grateful for his parents, he's grateful for Barbara, he's grateful for his kids. He knows he's one of the luckiest guys who ever lived, really."

  • U.S. & World NewsMore>>

  • Islamic State backers under scrutiny in US

    Islamic State backers under scrutiny in US

    Friday, August 22 2014 3:35 PM EDT2014-08-22 19:35:58 GMT
    Officially, the FBI agents who swarmed Donald Ray Morgan at Kennedy Airport this month were there to arrest him on a mundane gun charge. But they whisked him away to their Manhattan office and grilled him for two...[more]
    Officially, the FBI agents who swarmed Donald Ray Morgan at Kennedy Airport this month were there to arrest him on a mundane gun charge. But they whisked him away to their Manhattan office and grilled him for two hours on...[more]
  • West condemns Russia over convoy to Ukraine

    West condemns Russia over convoy to Ukraine

    Friday, August 22 2014 3:35 PM EDT2014-08-22 19:35:47 GMT
    Ukraine's armed forces say they have caused heavy casualties among pro-Russian separatist forces, although their overall advance quelling the rebel resistance remains haphazard and faltering.[more]
    Tensions between Russia and Ukraine escalated sharply on Friday as Moscow sent more than 130 trucks rolling across the border in what it said was a mission to deliver humanitarian aid.[more]
  • New fear: What happens in Ferguson if no charges?

    New fear: What happens in Ferguson if no charges?

    Friday, August 22 2014 3:15 PM EDT2014-08-22 19:15:39 GMT
    The streets of Ferguson have been peaceful for another night, as protests and tensions have been subsiding in the St. Louis suburb where unrest had erupted for several nights after a white police officer fatally...[more]
    Conditions calmed this week in Ferguson after nights of sometimes violent unrest stemming from the fatal shooting of a black 18-year-old by a white police officer. But a delicate and crucial question lingers: What happens...[more]
  • Stay Connected

  • Like Us on Facebook
  • Follow Us on Twitter
Powered by WorldNow

WHDH TV 7NBC WLVI TV CW56
Sunbeam Television Corp
7 Bulfinch Place
Boston, MA 02114

News Tips: (800) 280-TIPS
Tell Hank: (855) 247-HANK
Corporate Media Services: (800) 642-1551

Can't find something?
Connect with us here:
Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 WorldNow and WHDH. All Rights Reserved.
For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.