Bill White of Port St. Joe recently turned 80.



Bill White of Port St. Joe recently turned 80.

Unlike most 80 year-olds White decided to take the occasion to the extreme and try out something new: skydiving.

Despite flying thousands of miles inside a plane while in the Air Force, White never attempted to actually jump out of a plane.

“If (former President George H.W.) Bush could do it at 90, then I could do it at 80,” White said.

So during the first weekend in June, White along with his son David, drove to Blountstown in order for the elder White to throw himself out of a plane.

With a chute, of course (Just jumping would be silly).

White thought he would be nervous, but as the plane climbed through the clouds the aging veteran realized that he had no nerves.

As they neared the jump point, the pilot and the jump instructors were discussing the possibility of calling off the jump due to weather.

White insisted that he had to jump and when the all clear came for the pilot, White ran towards the door.

As the tandem pair made its way through the clouds, White said that he flapped his arms like a bird in jubilation.

However, the landing wasn’t as peaceful and White along with his jump instructor tumbled through the landing field, the elderly man receiving scratches on his arms.

As White’s son ran up to his father to check on his father’s condition, the younger White was surprised to find his father laughing while complaining that he may have broken his leg.

“It was the most fun I’ve had in forever,” White said.

David White was surprised at his father’s reaction, telling his father that it was the first time that he had seen him smile or laugh in four months.

Four months is the time since his loving wife of 55 years, Anne, passed away.

White took to the sky not only for a birthday thrill but, there was more.

White wanted to, “go up there and see her, go up there and fly with her.”

And while his wife may have found the whole thing foolish, White believes, in the end, she would have wanted him to complete the jump.

With a large check on his bucket list, White said that he would love to skydive again.

“I would do it again if I didn’t have to hit the ground,” White laughed pointing to the Band-Aids covering his arms.