Chicago woman, 104, skydives from plane, aiming for record as the world’s oldest skydiver

This photo provided by Daniel Wilsey shows Dorothy Hoffner, 104, falling through the air with tandem jumper Derek Baxter as she becomes the oldest person in the world to skydive, Sunday, Oct. 1, 2023, at Skydive Chicago in Ottawa, Ill. (Daniel Wilsey via AP)

OTTAWA, Ill. (AP) — A 104-year-old Chicago woman is hoping to be certified as the oldest person to ever skydive after leaving her walker on the ground and making a tandem jump in northern Illinois.

“Age is just a number,” Dorothy Hoffner told a cheering crowd moments after touching the ground Sunday at Skydive Chicago in Ottawa, about 85 miles (140 kilometers) southwest of Chicago, the Chicago Tribune reported.

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The Guinness World Record for oldest skydiver was set in May 2022 by 103-year-old Linnéa Ingegärd Larsson from Sweden. But Skydive Chicago is working to have Guinness World Records certify Hoffner’s jump as a record, WLS-TV reported.

Hoffner first skydived when she was 100. On Sunday, she left her walker behind just short of the plane — a Skyvan — and was helped up the steps to join the others waiting inside to skydive.

“Let’s go, let’s go, Geronimo!” Hoffner said after she was finally seated.

When she first skydived, she said she had to be pushed out of the aircraft. But on Sunday, tethered to a U.S. Parachute Association-certified instructor, Hoffner insisted on leading the jump from 13,500 feet (4,100 meters).

She looked calm and confident when the plane was aloft and its aft door opened to reveal tan crop fields far below shortly before she shuffled toward the edge and leaped into the air. She tumbled out of the plane, head first, completing a perfect forward roll in the sky, before flying stable in freefall with her belly facing the ground.

The dive lasted seven minutes, including her parachute’s slow descent to the ground. Coming in to land, the wind pushed She clung to the harness over her narrow shoulders, picked up her legs and plopped softly onto the grassy landing area.

Friends rushed in to share congratulations, while someone brought over Hoffner’s red walker. She rose quickly and she was asked how it felt to be back on the ground. “Wonderful,” Hoffner said. “But it was wonderful up there.”

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