Braving a jump at 80

JON HOUZET

NEARING his 81st birthday, Derrick Brown decided to fulfil a lifelong dream recently when he went skydiving over Grahamstown.

Not even arthritis could prevent the elated octogenarian from experiencing the exhilaration as he jumped in tandem with an experienced skydiving instructor.

Brown, who was born in Molteno in October 1931 and attended Queens College in Queenstown and Grey High School in Port Elizabeth, moved to Port Alfred a few months ago.

FULFILLING A DREAM: Port Alfred octogenarian Derrick Brown (bottom) went skydiving for the first time with instructor Joos Vos recently Picture: SUPPLIED

He had not intended to go skydiving a fortnight ago and just accompanied family members who had booked a jump with EP Skydivers.

“The day was windy and although the jump was scheduled for8.30am,the tandem jumps were delayed until 11am,” said Brown’s daughter Berni Jacobs.

“(My dad) watched from the sidelines as three of his family membersfulfilled his life’s dream. Although he was brave and said little, everyone could tell he was itching to do the jump.”

Joos Vos from EP Skydivers carefully assessed Brown and askedhim various questions.

“Having recently passed a physical from a localdoctor, we all knew his heart is in pretty good shape. However the arthritis in his ankles and handspresentedconcern,” said Jacobs.

When Vos said: “Let’s go skydiving,” Jacobs said ittook less than ten seconds for her dad to toss his hat, empty his pockets and gleefully follow the skydiving instructor.

“It left us all breathless,” said Jacobs. “The excitementwas barely containable.”

She said the jump was “perfect” with Vos doing a somersault from the plane.

Vos, who has been skydiving for about 15 years, told TotT Brown was one of the oldest people he had skydived with.

“There have been some older – 81- or 82-years-old. It’s like people have a bucket list – it happens frequently,” said Vos.

He said Brown did “very well, considering he’s got serious arthritis”, which raised concerns over potential spinal damage.

Vos said he always jumped in tandem with older people and they did not have to pull any cords.

“When my dad finally touched down on solid ground, tears ran down his cheeks. It was no longer a dream or a distant wish,” said Jacobs.

She said the jump had changed her father’s life.

“He now walks with a twinkle in his eye and knows that one is never too old tohave new experiences!”

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