90-year-old Bush takes a jump

2014-06-12 18:49

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Kennebunkport - Former US President George HW Bush has celebrated his 90th birthday by making a tandem parachute jump near his summer home in Maine.

The 41st president jumped out of a helicopter Thursday while harnessed to a retired member of the Army's parachute team. He can no longer use his legs because of a form of parkinsonism.

Bush could be seen floating to the ground using a red, white and blue parachute. A spokesperson says he landed safely and softly, out of the sight of reporters.

Bush made good on a promise made five years ago, when he also celebrated his birthday by skydiving.

Thursday marked his eighth jump. The first time Bush jumped from an aircraft was when his plane was shot down in World War II over the Pacific.

"It's a wonderful day in Maine - in fact, nice enough for a parachute jump," he announced on Twitter.

The announcement was kept secret until the last minute, partly to give Bush himself the option of changing his mind.

McGrath said Bush likes both a surprise and an adrenaline rush.

"It's vintage George Bush," he said. "It's that passion for life. It's wanting to set a goal, wanting to achieve it. I'm sure part of it is sending a message to others that even in your retirement years you can still find challenges."

The first time Bush jumped from an aircraft was when his plane was shot down in World War II over the Pacific. Later, he decided to jump from a plane of his own accord and marked his 75th, 80th and 85th birthdays by skydiving.

He said on his 85th birthday that he'd like to do it again on his 90th. Thursday's jump would be his eighth.

During his presidential years, Bush was known for jogging, tennis and fast-paced golf, but now uses a wheelchair because of a form of Parkinsonian. 

Other birthday festivities included a private dinner with more than 200 relatives and friends. His children, including former President George W Bush and former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, will be there, McGrath said.

- AP
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