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George H. W. Bush skydives for 90th birthday, fulfilling a goal he made years ago

KENNEBUNKPORT, Maine (AP) - Former President George H.W. Bush celebrated his 90th birthday on Thursday by making a tandem parachute jump near his summer home, fulfilling a goal he made five years ago after a similar jump even though he can no longer use his legs.

The nation's 41st president jumped from a helicopter at about 6,000 feet while harnessed to retired Sgt. 1st Class Mike Elliott, a former member of the Golden Knights, the Army's parachute team, who guided Bush to a safe landing on his 85th birthday.

"That's what he wanted for his 90th birthday and that's what he got," Elliott said. "It's a very good feeling to be involved and be able to turn back time."

The helicopter picked up Bush outside his home in Kennebunkport, in coastal Maine. His family sang "Happy Birthday" to him as he was transported him from his wheelchair to the chopper.

Bush floated to the ground under a red, white and blue parachute and landed on the lawn of St. Ann's Episcopal Church, where several hundred friends and relatives had gathered. Elliott said Bush's foot got tangled up underneath him during the landing, causing him to tumble forward onto the ground. A spokesman later said the former president was feeling "fine."

"He had a big smile for the crowd. You could tell hewas exhilarated," said Diana Untermeyer, a family friend from Houston. "He's an amazing man. This is just another sign of that. I think that like most of America, our family loves him to pieces. It was just a real thrill to do this again."

Bush was greeted with a kiss from his wife, Barbara Bush, and a hug from his son former President George W. Bush. The family left without talking to reporters.
George H.W. Bush Celebrates 90th Birthday With Skydive In Maine

Outside the grounds, scores of people gathered on the rocky shore to get a glimpse of the jump.

"He has a lot of courage. We need more like him," said David Morris, 79, of Melrose, Massachusetts.

Said Carol Schierl, 75, of Green Bay, Wisconsin: "I think it's wonderful. I hope I can jump out of a plane at 90."

The jump was kept secret until Thursday morning partly to give Bush the option of bagging it because of less-than-ideal weather.

"It's vintage George Bush," spokesman Jim McGrath 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."

Bush had to overcome the objections of his doctor and his family before making the jump, Elliott said.

"He's smiling like a kid in kindergarten," Elliott said following the jump.

Bush's jump was indicative of a trend among people of advanced age, said Lenard Kaye, director of the Maine Center on Aging at the University of Maine. More seniors are participating in extreme physical activities deep into their golden years, a trend that will pick up steam as more baby boomers retire, he said.

Such "extreme acts of adventure" are becoming a part of many seniors' lives, but they need to be mindful that their bones are more fragile than when they were younger, he said.

Bush, during his years in the White House, was known for jogging, tennis and fast-paced golf. The former president, who signed the landmark Americans with Disabilities Act in 1990, now uses a wheelchair or scooter because of a form of parkinsonism that has robbed him of use of his legs.

The first time Bush jumped from an airplane was when his plane was shot down in World War II over the Pacific. He marked his 75th, 80th and 85th birthdays by skydiving. Thursday was his eighth jump.
APTOPIX Bush Parachute Jump

Former President Bush Celebrates 80th Birthday With JumpPresident George H.W. Bush comes in for a landing while parachuting over Kennebunkport on Friday, J

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 and political director Ron Kaufman, 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."

President George H.W. Bush Skydives For His 90th Birthday


Associated Press writer Patrick Whittle in Portland contributed to this report.

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mlock2354 June 13 2014 at 4:59 AM

TY Mr President for all the years of service you have given to the U.S.A. I may not have agreed with some of your polices however I always respected you sir. Happy 90th Birthday and wish you many more.

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jackass June 13 2014 at 7:34 AM

Why are we paying for this old fool's folly?

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2 replies
begeology jackass June 13 2014 at 8:03 AM

You never served in the military, have you? Read about this President (your old fool) in WW11 and his being shot down near Iwo Jima and being rescued by a sub. He flew many missions against the Japanese and received the DFC. How many medals for bravery have you earned? You obviously do not have any courage. This is not the way to talk about any President. By the way, the President's family paid for the jump according to press reports. All of the jumpers volunteered their time.

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begeology jackass June 13 2014 at 8:04 AM

You never served in the military, have you? Read about this President in WW11 and his being shot down near Iwo Jima and being rescued by a sub. He flew many missions against the Japanese and received the DFC. How many medals for bravery have you earned? You obviously do not have any courage. This is not the way to talk about any President. By the way, the President's family paid for the jump according to press reports. All of the jumpers volunteered their time.

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blaiqck June 13 2014 at 8:01 AM

whens obama gonna do it, our only hope is that the parachute doesn;t open. hahaha this guy would never jump out of a plane, hes too much of a sissy.

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1 reply
kavincsb blaiqck June 13 2014 at 8:15 AM

A sissy that Sara Palin, Mitt Romney , John McCain and Paul Ryan, or ANY GOPers could beat. Even given 6 years and 2 elections. hahaha What's that word for the party and people that can't beat a sissy, again ?

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Mike June 13 2014 at 8:13 AM

Why did he need a parachute? Surely Satan would have protected him.

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classicconnusa June 13 2014 at 8:23 AM

LOL That guy has more guts than I do - and at 90 - holy crap!!! Add to that that his legs are gone and this almost verges on crazy except I as I age I can understand the impetus to make your "last stand" and go out sliding into "home plate". The grin on his face as he came down was enough to tell me his life has been a good one. For me - my dad being 90 when he passed - I would have been frozen watching him do this - had it not been for his courageous military service and experience which probably bolstered him to"just do it". Happy Birthday Mr President - you served us well. Try it again on your 100th birthday - bet you will enjoy it just as much!

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shodanrobinsong June 13 2014 at 8:59 AM

If here was ever a time for a May West . He is no hero.just a politikitavi war profiteer.

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lonewolfe521lesharris June 13 2014 at 5:55 AM

What the heck was George H. W. Bush thinking when he jumped from the helicopter? Oh I know what he was thinking " I better not crap my pants on the way down." Y'all know us senior citizins have bad bowel movements so Barbara please have my dipar ready because you are going to need to change it.

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3 replies
socraticknight June 13 2014 at 7:24 AM

was the co-jumper the same one who was strapped to the president when he jumped a few years ago? in that jump the co-jumper was also black, AND he also screwed up the landing. the two slipped on the grass, and they fell on their butts. word of advice, Mr. president, get a better co-jumper, because that one keeps messing up. Bush could have been killed. don't choose black to prove you are not racist, and what is wrong with a current Army Delta Force operator or Navy SEAL?

p.s. the former golden knight Army parachuter has been demoted to bronze squire.

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littlestanley2 June 13 2014 at 8:10 AM

Wishing 41, a very Happy Birthday! I have never minded them as a family! good family! their policies.. NOT SO MUCH!! Plus,, No pressure there for Mr. Elliot! carrying the golden egg to safety on a folly! My question.. why are we not speculating on the cost of such an elaborate gift to himself at the expense of our tax dollars? I wouldn't be, if it were fair all around! Under normal circumstances, we continue to pay to secure their property in what is their personal corner of the world!, and with this celebration, I'm sure the expenses went up! I have stayed at a Marina in Kennebunkport, where his personal boat is parked 24/7 all year around, the tourist boats that go by everyday, actually make it part of their conversation! there are CIA agents around it, at all times protecting it! I can't wait to see what Faux News will spread as a rumor of what we are paying unfairly for a retired Obama! When that time comes, let us be just as gracious about paying! Please?? Not asking much!

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