ELLINGTON, Conn. — A Connecticut grandmother waited a long time for her chance to skydive.
However, 96-year-old Betty Leighton didn’t have to do it alone. Three of her grandkids went along for the ride of a lifetime over Ellington.
“The only time you hear noise is when you first jump off,” Leighton said. “Then it’s all peaceful and quiet. You see for miles and miles, beautiful!”
Without a second guess, Leighton and her skydiving instructor jumped from a plane last Sunday. A 120-mile-an-hour free-fall with Ellington-based Connecticut Parachutists, who caught it all on camera.
“I finally did it,” Leighton said. “That’s something I wanted to do. I did it.”
Leighton was back on solid ground when she talked with WFSB on Thursday. But the jump was her dream for a long, long time.
It was actually something her husband, Walt, wanted to do before he passed away, so she wanted to make it happen. And it just so happened that her instructor was also named Walt.
“When we got there, our biggest concern was she might not be able to jump because of her age,” Michelle Hainey, who is Leighton’s granddaughter, said. “And the instructor did go to me one time and said, ‘she might not jump, we’re going to assess and if she’s not up to par, she’s not jumping.’ So I kinda elbowed my nana and said ‘nana, buck up, stand up straight and put your feet up because you might not jump.'”
Hainey went along for the adventure with two of her brothers. All four jumped 10,000 feet over the airport and after they drifted down for about five minutes, they made sure Leighton, who didn’t tell her doctor first, was OK.
“Our family is just a close-knit family, so it was fun,” Hainey said. “There were so many people there.”
Hainey couldn’t say no to her grandmother who really wanted to make it happen, because, for Leighton, it’s all about living your dreams and not holding back.
Leighton said if you want to do something, do it. She added that she would do it again.
“Sure, when I’m 100,” Leighton said while laughing.
Leighton turns 97 in October. She said she promises to keep pushing herself and her family to challenge themselves as well as always doing new things.