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Chicago woman, 104, skydives from plane, aiming for record as the world's oldest skydiver


OTTAWA, Ill. (AP) — A 104-year-old Chicago woman is hoping to be certified as the oldest person to ever skydive after making a tandem jump Sunday and landing 13,500 feet (4,100 meters) later at a northern Illinois airport.

“Age is just a number,” Dorothy Hoffner told a cheering crowd moments after touching the ground Sunday at Skydive Chicago Airport in Ottawa, about 85 miles (140 kilometers) southwest of Chicago, the Chicago Tribune reported.

The Guinness World Record for oldest skydiver was set in May 2022 by 103-year-old Linnéa Ingegärd Larsson from Sweden. But Skydive Chicago is working to have Guinness World Records certify Hoffner's jump as a record, WLS-TV reported.

Hoffner first skydived when she was 100. On Sunday, she left her walker behind just short of the Skyvan plane at the Ottawa airport and was helped up the steps to join the others waiting inside to skydive.

“Let’s go, let’s go, Geronimo!” Hoffner said after she was finally seated.

When she first skydived at 100 she had had to be pushed out of the aircraft. But on Sunday, tethered to a U.S. Parachute Association-certified instructor, Hoffner insisted on leading the jump.

She looked calm and confident when the plane was aloft and its aft door opened to reveal tan crop fields far below shortly before she shuffled toward the edge and leaped into the air.

The dive lasted seven minutes, and the plane beat Hoffner to the ground after her parachute opened for a slow descent. Finally, the wind pushed Hoffner's white hair back as she clung to the harness draped over her narrow shoulders, picked up her legs as the ground neared and plopped onto a grassy area at the airport.

Friends rushed in to share congratulations, while someone brought over Hoffner’s red walker. She rose quickly and a reporter asked her how it felt to be back on the ground.

“Wonderful,” Hoffner said. “But it was wonderful up there. The whole thing was delightful, wonderful, couldn’t have been better."

After her jump, Hoffner's mind quickly turned to the future and other challenges. The lifelong Chicago woman, who's set to turn 105 in December, said she might take a ride in a hot-air balloon next.

“I’ve never been in one of those,” she said.