Daredevil granny says sky diving is ‘really superb!’

2010-12-23 00:00

WHEN small, soft-spoken Gillian Earl (82) walked into the Angels’ Way skydiving centre yesterday with her family, few would have guessed she was the one who was going to jump from an aeroplane at 11 000 feet (3 352 m).

According to Skydive Durban’s Noogs Spall, Earl is now the oldest tandem passenger to have skydived at the centre.

Gillian is no stranger to adventure; she was cited as a pioneer mountaineer in the fifties and sixties and enjoyed a long and successful climbing career.

She was not alone in her skydiving feat yesterday; her son, Robert Earl (a Dusi paddler and adrenaline junkie), accompanied his mother on the jump.

Speaking before the jump, Gillian said she was “rather nervous.” Her husband, David Earl, explained their son had convinced Gillian to jump.

“I guess Rob just wanted his mother to hold his hand before the jump,” David joked.

The family, who had originally planned the excursion earlier in the week, had to wait a few days for the weather to clear. With clear, blue skies and a slight breeze, yesterday morning proved the perfect time.

“I’m ashamed to say I’m a little more afraid than my mom!” Robert said laughing.

Gillian gave her family an excited wave as she was strapped into her harness and taken into the aeroplane.

Her daughter-in-law and grandson waited below for grandma’s bright orange parachute to open. As she sailed to the ground, onlookers gave cheers and applause. “That was great!” she said after landing.

“Really superb! The scary bit was the free fall — you go mighty fast. But once that parachute went up it was just super,” she said.

Spall helped Gillian prepare for her jump. She said she was utterly amazed at Gillian’s spunk.

“That woman amazes me,” she said. “When she was coming down to land and she was asked to lift her legs, she really did — and kept them up. She’s really strong for an elderly woman,” she said.

Spall says skydiving is something everyone can enjoy.

“There is nothing like that thrill. And the view’s amazing; it’s so peaceful up there; you have to be up there to understand,” she said.

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