It was the fulfillment of a lifelong dream – to jump out of an airplane.
And that’s what Waxahachie resident Harriet Anderson did on July 6, just a few days prior to her 80th birthday.
“People may not believe that I would do such a thing, but I’ve got the video to prove it,” she said, saying she never once felt anxious about the jump.
The jump became a reality when she made a trip to Riverside, Calif., earlier in July to visit her sister-in-law Betty Anderson and her niece, C.J. Anderson, who, like her aunt, had never jumped out of an airplane.
They traveled out to an airstrip where a skydiving company known as Skydive Perris operates. The package included an experienced instructor to make the 12,500-feet jump with Anderson and video of the jump, which covered the event from the time she exited the plane until she, along with her instructor, made a pinpoint landing on a grassy landing area.
She also has scores of photos on a disc to further reinforce her bragging rights as well as a certificate bearing a photo of Anderson and her instructor in mid-air and the words, “Congratulations on your first skydive. Harriet Anderson did a skydive over Perris Valley on July 6, 2009.”
“Oh the weather was just gorgeous,” she said. “The view was great – I looked all around and didn’t mind looking down either.”
She couldn’t have asked for a more perfect day, except for the fact two of her nephews, Rick Arend and James Ellerbeck, refused to make the trip to the airstrip with her, saying they couldn’t bear to watch.
“When I asked why they put my name inside the suit, one of my nephews said, ‘That’s just in case the shoot doesn’t open – they’ll be able to identify you,’ ” Anderson said with a laugh.
Anderson, a native of West Virginia, and her husband Gordon, lived in Tucson, Ariz. until his death in 1997. She said it was his wish that she move back to Waxahachie to be near her daughter and son-in-law who live in Duncanville. She relocated in Waxahachie in 2000.
All of her friends who know her weren’t surprised at her skydiving venture because Anderson has lived an active life and today is no different.
“I enjoy traveling, walking and I like to golf and bowl,” the octogenarian said, noting her other pastimes include baking chocolate chip cookies and giving them away to the neighbors and caring for her great-granddaughter.
“I don’t care to eat out and I never watch television. I’m not ready to sit down and rock – and watch soap operas. The only thing I’ll watch is ‘Noggin’ with my great-granddaughter,” she said. “My children often comment about the fact that I don’t care to get out much – that is, unless it’s to fly to California and go skydiving.”
Asked if she was going to make a repeat jump on her 81st birthday, Anderson gives the idea a thumbs down.
“I need a few years to think about it,” she said. “Maybe I’ll do it on my 85th.”
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