Celebrating 80 years high in the sky


GANANOQUE – What better way to celebrate your 80th birthday, than to roll out of an airplane at 9,000 feet, free fall for about 3,000 feet and then take in a little scenery below as you parachute the remainder of the way to the ground?

“Someone asked me why I did it,” says Bill Tupper of Morrisburg, of his recent skydiving experience to celebrate his upcoming 80th birthday on Wednesday, October 16. The answer was easy. “Because I can.”

Tupper’s appreciation for adventure in the sky began 12 years ago when he joined his sister, Anna, for a hot air balloon ride.

Then last year, while on an Alaskan Cruise vacation, he headed for the treetops for a little zip lining.

“That was a blast. I did five lines, three suspension bridges. “They just put you in a harness and away you go. I saw eagles and down below, bears and deer.”

With hot air ballooning and zip lining under his belt, Bill then  looked around for yet a better thrill.

“So for my 80th birthday, I said, ‘I’m gonna sky dive’.” 

Research led him to Skydive Gananoque and off he went to Gananoque with son Derek who also experienced the jump. “We tried to get three generations, but my grandson had to work,”  says Bill.

As for other members of the Tupper family, sons “Doug and Dale wouldn’t go. We even offered to pay for Douglas.”

Tupper explained there was a pre-jump briefing and for the jump he was strapped to fully qualified, experienced and certified tandem instructor, Ed Miller. “There were six of us in the plane, along with Ed, who I was fastened to and the cameraman.”

“We went up to 9,000 feet and then rolled out of the plane. I wasn’t nervous and there was no hesitation. We free fell for about 3,000 feet, and then we released the chute. Ed was strapped right tight to me. He told me to keep my arms out and my head up. The guy with the camera was floating backwards right in front of us. He was making a video and taking pictures. To take a picture, he bit down on a thing he had in his mouth.”

“It was great. Ed asked me if I wanted to go straight down or to go for a ride and I chose a ride, so off we went. It was beautiful. You could look down and see all of the 1000 Islands.”

“I marvelled how everyone landed in the same 12 foot square.”

Asked what is next, Bill says he isn’t sure. “Well, maybe on my 85th, I’ll do it again.”

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