LIFE

103-Year-Old Goes Skydiving, Shattering World Record For Oldest Person To Do It

by Angela Andaloro

Al Blaschke is a person who has really seen all of life’s highest highs and lowest lows. Al turned 103 years old this past January.

He’s experienced quite a bit in those years.

As a child, Al survived the Spanish flu. He made it through one of the nation’s most difficult points in history, the Great Depression. Recently, Al battled the current viral disease and came out on top. He’s in incredible shape for his age and refuses to let anything stand in his path.

Al has another event to now add to his storied life. On July 3, Al set the mark recognized by the Guinness World Records for the oldest tandem skydive.

Al took a 14,000-foot jump with his two grandsons, who recently graduated college. The incredible moment is a powerful reminder that life only stops when we say it does. At 103, Al is more dedicated to living and experiencing life than many far younger than he.

Al Blaschke has seen a lot in his life. The 103-year-old survived the Spanish flu as a child. He lived through the Great Depression. Recently, Al even faced a battle with the virus causing the global health crisis. Through it all, he’s kept his joy for living.

At 103 years and 180 days old, Al decided to go for something huge. He attempted to set the mark recognized by the Guinness World Records for oldest tandem skydive. The record was previously held by Bryson William Verdun Hayes, who completed his dive at 101 years and 38 days old. The oldest female tandem skydive was achieved by Kathryn “Kitty” Hodges at 103 years and 129 days old last August.

Al had a lot of people excited for him to take the plunge. Members of his senior community cheered him on as he left the facility to go skydiving.

“Al Blaschke, a resident of The Wesleyan Independent Living, received an enthusiastic send-off from residents and teammates yesterday as he departed to complete an impressive feat – skydiving. At 103, Al set a world’s record as the oldest person to tandem jump out of a plane. He was particularly glad that he got to make the jump with his two grandsons, who were first-timers,” they shared on Facebook.

Al executed the 14,000-foot jump last Thursday. He dove with friend Betty Schleder, who has competed on Survivor and The Amazing Race. Also joining them were Al’s twin grandsons, who recently graduated from college.

“It was awesome to be able to jump out of an airplane with my grandpa,” Kevin, one of his grandsons, told ABC News. “Him breaking the world record is icing on the cake.”

Kevin was around to congratulate his grandfather on his last major skydiving endeavor.

In case you couldn’t tell, this was far from Al’s first time skydiving. He went up for the first time in celebration of his 100th birthday in 2017. He had gotten the idea years prior to that, when someone joked with the retired craftsman and World War II veteran about celebrating his 97th birthday by jumping out of a plane.

“He came in and we saw that, amazingly, he was in great shape for a 100-year-old,” said Wendy Faulkner of Skydive Temple in Salado, Texas. Wendy helped Al organize his first jump for his 100th birthday jump.

Al was completely exhilarated by his first jump. His only complaint? He felt like the jump didn’t last long enough.

“It was too short,” he said at the time. “I saw more than I thought I would with my eyes.”

Al also tried to rope a friend in on his skydiving fun recently. Back in February, he got his friend Ernie Columbus into the idea of going for a jump. They planned on doing it for Ernie’s 100th birthday, but the weather kept them from going through with it. Ernie did eventually do his jump.

Al’s latest jump was no less memorable than his first. Skydive Spaceland manager Thomas Hughes said Al was free-falling until he reached 6,000 feet and a speed of 120 miles per hour.

“Everything went perfect. Skydiving is a very safe sport these days. Statistically, it’s more dangerous to get snacks out of a vending machine,” Thomas said.