Former president George H.W. Bush celebrated his 90th birthday yesterday by jumping out of a plane and parachuting onto the lawn of St. Ann’s Episcopal Church, Kennebunkport, Maine.
The 41st president did the same for his 85th birthday in 2009. The same man that guided him in that jump — Sgt. 1st Class Mike Elliott, a retired member of the Golden Knights, the Army’s parachute team — brought him in safely (if a bit roughly) on Thursday.
“First of all, it’s an honor just to do it,” he said. “Regardless of his situation, we got him down happy and safe. That’s what he wanted for his 90th birthday and that’s what he got.”
He made the jump despite the fact that he has Parkinson’s disease which has affected the use of his legs.
“His doctor and everyone was telling him no because of his health. I think he made a statement today to continue to live,” Elliott said. “Mrs. Bush told him no. ’43’ told him no. After a little research and seeing who was doing it and that he really wanted to d it, everybody got on board.”
The jump was not without excitement:
Crosswinds made the landing tricky, Elliott said, and at one point Bush’s foot got caught, which resulted in the duo doing a controlled tumble. But the jump, which took place from 6,300 feet, went smoothly, he said.
Elliott said jumping with Bush again was “like turning back time” and he thought it was the same for the former president.
“He’s got to be feeling younger than ever,” he said.
Afterwards, friends and family celebrated at the church.