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Gutsy grandmother goes skydiving at 81 years old

By Emily Griffin, egriffin@kwch.com
Published On: May 18 2014 03:07:58 PM CDT
Updated On: May 18 2014 09:46:27 PM CDT
DERBY, Kan. -

It may be a week late, but one area woman got much more than flowers for her late Mother's Day gift.

Sunday, Janice Conner of south Hutchinson spent the day getting trained up and ready for her first ever skydive.

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"By watching things like this on TV, she realized mom would like to do it," said Janice's son Daniel McGraw. "So, she talked to me and had me set it up."

But Janice isn't your average skydiver. She's 81 years old, and still ready to take on the world.

"We've been discussing my bucket list and this is one thing I've always wanted to do. So for Mother's Day, the kids decided they were going to pay for me to go skydiving," Janice said.

Owner of Air Capital Drop Zone, Martin Myrtle, says the average age of jumpers usually ranges from 18 to 20, and sometimes folks in their 50s. Those people are usually parents whose kids have grown up and left home.

"You have to be in relatively decent condition," said Myrtle. "So, someone in their 80s is pretty rare, but it happens every once in a while."

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Janice isn't the oldest person to jump out at Air Capitol Drop, that record stands at 84. Regardless, it's not every day a great-great-grandmother tries something this gutsy.

Before taking to the sky, Janice got a little advice from one of her grandsons:

"Don't take your teeth with you," she laughed. "I have a partial plate. One grandson called me and said don't do that because he'd seen a cartoon of this lady flying and she'd lost her teeth."

After a brief training, Janice and her tandem instructor were off. They hit 10,000 feet in the air before jumping and free falling about 4,000-5,000 feet and opening the parachute.

The jump was declared a success and although it's now one more thing Janice can cross off her bucket list, when asked if she'd do it again, she simply laughed and said, "I doubt it."

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