Source Pravda.Ru

80-year-old ex-President Bush sky dives at his birthday as young man

Ex-president of USA George Bush celebrated his 80th birthday by skydiving - twice - strapped to a paratrooper in tandem jumps.

"I like speed and I like the thrill of it, I think it sets an example for older people," Bush said on Sunday.

"Because you are 80 years old, that doesn't mean you are out of it, out of the game."

He had planned to make the second jump solo, but in high winds, it was decided he should jump only attached to an expert, reports iol.co.za

According to nytimes.com "This was a day of joy and a day of wonder for the Bush family, and certainly for the old guy," the former president told reporters a few minutes later.

His jump suit sported an Army parachuting badge, indicating that he had just completed his fifth jump, including a practice one that very morning. Within the badge's wings is a bronze star, meaning that he made at least one jump in combat. When he was 20, he ejected from his World War II bomber before it crashed into the South Pacific.

Assisted by two instructors from the Army's Golden Knights parachute team, and chronicled by three other jumpers wearing video helmets, the ex-president had plummeted for 60 seconds of free fall before his parachute snapped open and he began a more gentle glide to the grassy field near his presidential library. Five years ago, for his 75th birthday, he made a solo jump, but on Sunday the Army decided that the wind was too unpredictable and the cloud ceiling too low. So they opted for the safer tandem jump, with the president strapped to the paratrooper.

Some 3,000 people watched from outside a huge air-conditioned tent where they had been eating and waiting for several hours. The weekend celebration of the president's birthday included a gala in Houston's baseball stadium on Saturday night and a post-jump barbecue on the grounds of the Bush library here at Texas A&M University.

The first time Bush jumped out of an airplane was when he was a U.S. aviator shot down over the Pacific during World War II, some 60 years ago.

The senior Bush was in Texas for two-days of festivities and fanfare to celebrate his 80th birthday.

On Saturday, Bush was at the baseball park in Houston with his son, President Bush and former Soviet president Mikhail Gorbachev.

The Bush faithful, who paid at least $200 each and some as much as $1 million to take part in the charity event, then moved by train about 100 miles west to the Texas A&M University campus at College Station to watch Bush parachute.

The organizers of the event did not want to delay the Bush birthday celebration, though it started hours after the funeral for Reagan, for whom Bush served as vice president, reports reuters.com

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