‘‘If I can do it, anyone can.’’
Those were the words of Pukekohe's Ruby Leach after she leapt from an aeroplane at an altitude of 4000m on Sunday.
Leach is 90 years old and suffers from a heart condition.
Last year she took a ride in a hot air balloon and a tandem skydive was next on Leach's bucket list.
‘‘After the air balloon I thought I could do a skydive. I did think I’d be scared, but on the day I didn’t let myself get worked up at all.’’
Leach's skydive took place from West Auckland Airport in Parakai through Skydive Auckland. Leach is now the company’s oldest customer.
‘‘My legs didn’t have the strength to climb the stairs so I was lifted onto the plane,’’ she said.
She was connected via a harness to instructor, Billy Thompson, who guided her through the jump and 45 second freefall.
‘‘I wasn’t nervous, I was rather excited. If you don’t let nerves play on you, it’s not as scary as you think it’ll be.
‘‘It is a bit scary at the start when you go tumbling, but then it straightens up.’’
Watching from the ground on Sunday were Leach's son, her daughter-in-law and the woman who cleans Leach's unit.
‘‘My son was the one who booked the skydive for me,’’ Leach said.
‘‘They thought it was fantastic and were really supportive. The best part of the whole thing was seeing them as I came down and hearing them shout.’’
Although her friends and family were all behind her jump, Leach's doctor was a bit apprehensive.
Thirty-five years ago Leach suffered a heart attack so her doctor was worried.
‘‘When I was getting my ears checked recently, my doctor asked me If I was really going to do it,’’ she said.
‘‘But if I say I’m going to do something, I’ll do it. My heart was completely fine – not a flutter – and now my doctor wants a photo of the skydive for his surgery.’’
During the 10 to 15 minute drop, Leach sang away to her instructor.
‘‘The guy strapped to me, Billy, was very impressed. He was lovely. I sang The Daring Young Man on the Flying Trapeze to him on the way down and changed the words to make it about him.’’
After her safe landing, Leach said the whole experience was fabulous.
‘‘It was one of the most exciting things I’ve ever done and I’d do it again ,’’ she said. "You’ve just got to go for it and keep calm because it’s worth it and you’ll feel great after.’’
Leach is now trying to come up with another thrilling experience to add to her bucket list, but even she has limits.
‘‘I’m scared of water after seeing many people drown in Gloucestershire in England where I’m from.
‘‘I’m looking for something else to do now, but there can’t be any water involved.’’
- Fairfax Media