Sure Barbara Alderson had cake for her 90th birthday.
“Three of ‘em,” she said.
But cake was not enough. Everybody eats cake and gets sweaters with reindeer on them. Alderson decided to give herself a present.
A day after turning 90 years old, Alderson jumped out of an airplane.
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At 90, Barbara Alderson went skydiving.
“I’m not scared at all,” said the retired Chester nurse as she walked to the airplane. “Nothing to it.”
This is a lady who plays golf three, four times a week and still shoots under her age. It was rumored she had seven holes-in-one.
“Eight,” said the World War II veteran. “Every par three at Chester.”
This widow bowls in two leagues in Rock Hill, too. She has climbed a mountain and gone to a dude ranch, and those are just the mundane tasks of her life.
If Barbara Alderson has a rocking chair at 90, it sits empty.
Word got around the past few days that Alderson was going to jump at Skydive Carolina in Chester. So the men and ladies she plays golf with and the ladies she bowls with, and her son and grandson in Georgia, all showed up to watch. By the time Alderson put on the jumpssuit and had her short training Friday, more than 30 people were there to watch.
“She is so competitive; nobody is surprised she is doing this,” said her son, Phil Alderson. “Certainly not me.”
The whole crowd applauded - even other jumpers. This was before Alderson even left the ground.
The only diver older than Alderson in the history of skydiving in Chester was one guy 93 years old.
“George Bush, the father, he jumped one time too but he was just 85,” said Alderson. “I’m older than him.”
Alderson was teamed up for the tandem jump with veteran instructor Chuck Hammond. Hammond took his mother, Marge, skydiving on her 70th birthday not too many years ago. He also took that guy who was 93, so another senior citizen was no problem for Hammond.
At 13,500 feet in the air, at 2:06 p.m., Barbara Alderson jumped out of that plane with Hammond. The duo sped downward for a minute at 120 mph, then the chute was pulled for the six-minute float to the ground.
The friends on the ground cheered and peered as Alderson came to the ground in a skidding landing on her rump.
Alderson was hoisted to her feet and was all smiles.
“Nothing to it,” she said. “It was great.”
Hammond, the instructor, called his student, “Awesome!”
Later, Alderson made the rounds of friends and family.
“Were you scared?” people asked.
“Not at all,” she said.
Barbara Alderson, 90 years old, was asked what she will do when she turns 100.
“Rapids,” she said. “Whitewater rafting.”
Andrew Dys * 803-329-4065 * firstname.lastname@example.org