KENNEBUNKPORT, Maine — Former President George H.W. Bush marked his 85th birthday on Friday the same way he did his 75th and 80th birthdays: He leaped from a plane and zoomed downward at more than 100 mph in a free fall before parachuting safely to a spot near his oceanfront home.
Bush made the tandem jump from 10,500 feet with Sgt. 1st Class Mike Elliott of the Army's Golden Knights, who guided them to a gentle landing on the lawn of St. Ann's Church.
"It's a great, exhilarating feeling," Bush said after he was removed from his harness. "I don't feel a day over 84."
He said he enjoyed the jump so much that he plans to do it again when he turns 90.
When he was president, Bush was an avid jogger, speed golfer, fisherman and tennis player. He said he has slowed down since then, but he doesn't intend to stop moving.
He said he jumped Friday for two reasons: to experience the exhilaration of free-falling and to show that seniors can remain active and do fun things. "Just because you're an old guy, you don't have to sit around drooling in the corner. Get out and do something. Get out and enjoy life."
All five of Bush's children, including former President George W. Bush, were there, along with 14 grandchildren, two brothers and a sister.
Elliott said he was "definitely nervous" because of Bush's age and the presence of his entire family.