106-year-old Georgetown man sets record while skydiving with Gov. Abbott

FENTRESS, TX (KXAN) — The plane finally revved to life around 8:40 Monday morning on a lone runway paved over rural ranch land under a clearing sky.

The conditions at Skydive Spaceland San Marcos had been closely watched by the flight crew, which opted to delay the takeoff by 30 minutes because of earlier cloud cover.

With a security team, staffers, and Caldwell County Sheriff’s deputies looking on, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott loaded onto the de Havilland Canada DHC-6 Twin Otter plane, joined by his guest of honor, a 106-year-old World War II veteran.

  • Texas Gov. Greg Abbott skydives with 106-year-old WWII veteran Al Blaschke (KXAN Photo/Todd Bailey)
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Al Blaschke helped make parts for planes during the war, and set the record as the oldest person in the world to skydive when he turned 103. This day he beat his own record, joined by Abbott, who was skydiving for the first time.

As the two dived in tandem while strapped to their instructors, Abbott fulfilled a promise to Blaschke he made when he first heard his story a year ago when the two met at Georgetown’s Sun City.

Abbott said the jump was a thrill, describing a feeling unlike any other when he exited the plane.

“The most shocking sensation is when you immediately exit the plane, and you’re just in freefall. I had no clue where we were. We stabilized and then flew for a while without the parachute. [You] feel the parachute. It’s a lot of fun. It’s just amazing peace out there. It’s nice and calm,” Abbott said.

Blaschke’s family said they expect this jump to be his last, with Al’s 107th birthday coming up in January. If that’s the case, he made the most of it, singing Frank Sanatra’s “When You’re Smiling” as they freefell, then soared down 8,000 feet to earth.

My slogan is ‘keep smiling.’ Every letter I write and every Christmas card, I say… ‘keep smiling.’ Always. Everybody should,” Blaschke said.

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