Newburyport man, 90, crosses skydiving off bucket list – The Daily News of Newburyport

NEWBURYPORT — At 90 years old, Paul Norton is still reaching new heights — and leaping from them. 

While visiting the Kennedy Space Center in Titusville, Florida, last month, the Newburyport resident went skydiving for the first time — an experience he said was “noisy and cold,” but never scary, even during the minute and 15 seconds he spent in free fall before his tandem partner pulled the cord on their parachute, beginning a slow and steady descent before they landed safely.

“The last thing they told me to do was to put my feet in a particular spot, and the next thing I knew, I was headed for the ground,” recalled Norton, a one-time Yankee Homecoming King. 

“Everybody’s scared of things, but I didn’t find it scary at all.”

Skydiving was something Norton’s wife, Jean, would never have been happy with during their 68 years of marriage. But after she died in October, Norton decided it was time to cross one thing off his bucket list: parachuting out of a plane.

“It was something I’ve wanted to do for many years, I just happened to be 90 when I had the chance,” Norton said, adding that he hoped his first skydiving experience would not be his last.

“It was a great experience,” he said. “I think I’m going to try it again next year if I’m still in good enough shape.”

Also taking the jump that day was his daughter, Debbie Norton, who said the Kennedy Space Center staff said her father was the second-oldest jumper they had seen there. The oldest was a 92-year-old woman.

“It will be one of my good memories for the rest of my life, it was great,” said Debbie, a resident of Rochester, New York. She said many bystanders were curious about her father’s experience when he landed. 

“It was kind of funny and very nice how everyone wanted to talk to him,” she said. “They were so curious about how he felt. They were all coming up to him, and a lot of people asked to have their picture taken with him.”

Norton said he would recommend skydiving to people of all ages, as long as their legs are in good enough shape to handle the slight impact of landing.

“If you want to test your courage, you should try it. I’d actually say it’s more dangerous to drive down the highway in your car,” Norton said, adding that skydiving is not the last adventurous item on his to-do list.

“Next, I’d like to try scuba diving,” he said.

Staff writer Jack Shea can be reached via email at [email protected] or by phone at 978-961-3154. Follow him on Twitter @iamjackshea.

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