Calgary

'It was a wonderful experience:' Skydiving senior celebrates 100th birthday above the clouds

By the time she turned 100, Patricia MacKenzie had been dreaming about skydiving long enough, she decided, and resolved to just do it.

She's already itching to do it again

Patricia MacKenzie was considered too frail to land on her feet so instead she landed on her instructor, who landed on his back. (Photos by Shawn Foust/Team Skydive Monterey Bay)

To mark being alive on the planet for 100 years, Calgarian Patricia MacKenzie did something she had dreamt of doing for a decade: she dove out of an airplane at 18,000 feet in the air.

On Jan. 11, a day after her birthday, MacKenzie soared through the air with a parachute and instructor, high above Marina, Calif., and kept her eyes wide open the whole time.

It was a wonderful experience, no strain to me at all.- Patricia MacKenzie

"There wasn't much to see when we were 18,000 feet up, actually," MacKenzie, who to moved to Canada from England in 1995, told the Calgary Eyeopener.

"It was a wonderful experience, no strain to me at all." 

Mackenzie says she first looked to skydive in Alberta, but most locations offering the service aren't open in January, so she instead made the trip to Skydive Monterey Bay in Marina, Calif.

Her children and grandchildren, who had gathered from various corners of the world to watch her, looked on from below, waiting while milling about with her walker.

"We were pushing [her walker] around the landing area just thinking, 'what have we done?'" said her son Julien Colbeck. 

"It was surreal."

'There wasn't much to see when we were 18,000 feet up, actually,' says Mackenzie. (Photo by Shawn Foust/Team Skydive Monterey Bay)

Sticking the landing as a 100-year-old woman couldn't be done in the usual way of alighting on her feet, explained MacKenzie.

"They strapped me horizontal to a man," she said.

That man was her accommodating instructor, who stuck the landing on his back, with the birthday girl on top of him.

"There was no connection with the earth for me at all," she said.

MacKenzie has already signed up to do it again next year. (Shawn Foust/Team Skydive Monterey Bay)

MacKenzie said she has fulfilled a dream she'd had since she was 90 years old, but at the time her husband was still alive and cautioned her against it, as did her children.

But upon reaching the milestone of a century, MacKenzie made up her mind to do it.

It'll be tough to top this experience. However, she says she has already signed up to do it again next year in commemoration her 101st birthday.

Most people have a party when they turn 100, but we meet a Calgary centenarian who celebrated triple digits by hurtling towards the earth at 200 kilometres an hour. 7:02

"I told them at the time I would definitely do it again," MacKenzie said.

Her message to other centenarians who may be considering a similar thrill? 

"I would advise them to just do it," she said.


With files from the Calgary Eyeopener.

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