Web Exclusive: Woman celebrates 90th birthday by skydiving

Web Exclusive

(CNN/WKRG) - A 90-year-old woman celebrates her birthday in a big way.  She jumped out of an airplane!

It's a birthday celebration that could make even the youngest daredevil's heart race.

"Some say, 'I think it's wonderful that you're doing it.' Others say, 'I think you're really crazy,'" says Marion Stangler. But not Marion Stangler of Pensacola. "I don't feel I'm crazy, I feel it's a great adventure."

She chose to mark her 90th birthday with a jump. "They said, 'Gram, what are you gonna do on your 90th birthday?' I said, 'You know what I'm gonna do? I'm gonna go skydiving,'" says Stangler.

Dozens of friends from her retirement home were there to cheer her on.

"She's got more nerve than I've got. More guts," says an onlooker.  "Like a snowball rolling down a hill, it just got bigger and bigger and then there's just no backing out, you know," says Hugh Platten, a friend.

Marion's two sons, both in their late 60s, certainly couldn't let their 90-year-old mother do it alone.  "I think it was, we were talking about different people that did crazy things, and I think I said George Bush jumped out of a plane for his 80th birthday, so then came that sounds like a good idea," Jeff Miller, Stangler's son.

As the plane starts speeding off the runway, there's no turning back now.  Once the time comes, Marion seems surprisingly relaxed as she jumps out of an airplane 14-thousand feet up. She floats back to earth safely, relieved it's over.

"I thought the 'chute would never open," says Stangler. 

SkyDiving was a one time deal for Marion, who became the oldest person ever to jump at Emerald Coast Skydiving.  "It is a risk.  I'm proud of her.  I'm proud that people around her can look up to her, at the ambition she still has," says her son. 

And that's a fact anyone can walk away -- proud of accomplishing.


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