Granny (82) goes skydiving Down Under

2016-03-16 06:00
Bonita Hughes (82) from Port Elizabeth and her granddaughter Margaret Goldsmith ready to take to the blue skies at Jurien Bay on the west coast of Australia.               Photo: SUPPLIED

Bonita Hughes (82) from Port Elizabeth and her granddaughter Margaret Goldsmith ready to take to the blue skies at Jurien Bay on the west coast of Australia. Photo: SUPPLIED

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BEEN there, done that, got all the t-shirts ... what’s next?

This might sound like a nonchalant comment from of a twenty-something globetrotter. Surprisingly not. It is a 82-year-old lady from Port Elizabeth.

Owing to Bonita Hughes’ granddaughter, who happens to be a real globetrotter currently living in Australia and who inherited her granny’s traits, the two decided to enjoy tandem skydiving at Jurien Bay.

“Margaret told me how exciting it is to skydive and said, you know, that is something that I’ve always wanted to do,” said Hughes, whilst keeping an eye on her grandson doing his homework.

“She said, oh well, Nana, I will take you one of these days.”

On Hughes’ recent visit to her daughter Carol in Perth, Australia, Margaret asked her granny if she is still eager to jump out of an aeroplane? Hughes replied, “Oh, can a duck swim!” and that was the spark for another unforgettable adventure.

“Strange in actual fact, I was very excited and wanted to do it. But as we were travelling to Jurien Bay, which is a two-hour drive along the western coast, north of Perth, it started completely clouding over. I thought, is the Lord trying to tell me something?”

They however drove on and were informed by the skydivers to wait until noon to see if the sky would clear.

“Suddenly it started clearing. So, we went through the process of documentation and indemnity forms and my son-in-law said I had to take insurance in case something went wrong.

“But they don’t insure you after the age of 75. It once again made me reconsider; is the Lord really trying to tell me something? But, I made up my mind that I am going to do it.”

When at an altitude of 14 000 feet, Hughes was told that she and her tandem partner would go first.

“Scared? No, not all, I wanted to do it. The only thing that I thought of was oh my goodness will I ever straighten up, as we were diving head first.

“We free fall for 9 000 feet and your flesh is being blown right in, especially when you are older and not so firm anymore. At 5 000 feet the parachute opened and then I could relax and enjoy the view over the turquoise bay. We had fun and our tandem partners spun us around and steered me and Margaret close-by so that we could have a chat.”

“I enjoyed the free fall, but the gliding was absolutely amazing with a beautiful view over Jurien Bay, which is classed as the most beautiful bay in that area.

“The landing on the beach was absolutely wonderful. You lift your legs, but do sort of end up on your behind.”

Hughes received a warm welcome back on terra nova and was awarded a certificate, stating her successful skydiving at “the world’s most beautiful beach skydive”.

“It was lovely. The adrenaline takes over. Even the following day and the following day I was still on a high-kind-of-thing.”

When arriving back in Port Elizabeth at the airport, Hughes was politely asked by the air hostess if she needed assistance getting off the plane.

“I thought it was very funny, if only she knew that I have just jumped out of an aeroplane some 14 000 feet in the air.”

Hughes, an avid hiker, photographer, abseiler and line-dancer, also does trim gym and pilates and loves climbing mountains. She has been a member of the Voetsac Hiking Club for the past 29 years and also is a member of the Caritas Service Centre, a senior citizens club which is part of the Echo Foundation.

“I would like to do hang-gliding to spend more time in the air, looking around and to enjoy the environment. Skydiving goes by too quickly. Only 5 minutes and you are back on earth.”

Without hesitation she said, “cage diving - I would really like to experience being close to the sharks!

“You’ve got to expand your horizon, go out and enjoy nature and God’s creatures.”

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