Skydiving at 95 an adventure for man of faith

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. — A few onlookers watched anxiously Monday as 95-year-old Jack Myers jumped out of an airplane, marking the third time that he has skydived.

“Adios, amigo,” he said as he headed out to the plane at the Chambersburg Skydiving Center northwest of Chambersburg.

Despite others’ worries, Myers was not concerned, partially in thanks to his religion.

“Having a faith — it takes the fear out of you,” he said.

“It gives you a more comfortable feeling because you feel like He’s with you, and whatever happens, He’s with me,” Myers said of God. “I would say that’s one thing about skydiving.”

Myers went skydiving for the first time on his 90th birthday.

“I thought, well, I’ve done so many things in my life. What can I do now?” he said. “… I thought about President Bush. He did it on his 90th, so I thought, well, if he did it, I can do it.”

Myers was accompanied Monday by his wife of almost four years, Mary Jo Kemper; his youngest son Jeff Myers; and his friend Penny Beaver. While Kemper just watched, Beaver and Jeff Myers made the jump, too.

“He is so positive — he has a positive attitude, which I try to develop, too,” Kemper said. “Yes, there is always that risk, but he’s done it twice, he knows what he has to do, and I put the rest in the hands of God.”

Jeff Myers said his prior skydiving experience was on his own. Monday’s jump was in tandem with an experienced skydiver.

“I’m excited about it because it goes up higher,” he said before the jump.

Not everyone was as confident about skydiving.

“I right now have butterflies fighting in my stomach,” Beaver said as she got ready for the jump. “I’m a chicken. I’m scared of heights, so I’m scared of planes.”

She went skydiving with Jack Myers for his 92nd birthday. Her father, who was in the 101st Airborne in Korea, died last year. She jumped in his memory on Monday.

Much to his companions’ relief, Jack Myers’ jump went well.

“I didn’t have a smooth landing, but I didn’t break anything,” he said after getting back to the building. “I feel great. It was awesome: 11,000 feet — that’s up there pretty high. It was nice and cool up there.”

Jack Myers and Kemper maintain an active lifestyle — they recently returned from France and are traveling to Florida for a World War II reunion. They have also gone ziplining and on a hot air balloon ride over Lancaster County, Pa. They were 90 and 78, respectively, when they got married.

Jack Myers said his advice for life is simply to do what you want to do.

“When I have a chance to talk to schoolchildren or young people, I tell them to have a goal or dream that they want to fulfill,” Jack Myers said.

“Well, I think totally, you know, … enjoy life every day that you’re here, and try to accept things as they come and realize that’s what the world is like, and trying not to let it discourage you from having a happy, successful life.”

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