One giant, skydiving leap for great-granny

By Caryn Dolley and Jordan Weissmann

Kitted out in a bright peach tracksuit, 92-year-old Georgina Harwood leapt out of an airplane near Koeberg and fell 3 000.

Goal-getter: Skydiving grandmother Georgina Hardwood, 92, could be the oldest person to skydive in South Africa. Photo: Pretoria News. Credit: Pretoria News

"Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful," Hardwood said when asked to describe the experience.

Hardwood, of Woodside, and her grandchildren, Lynette Harwood, 28, and Johan Harwood, 24, went skydiving on Sunday. Harwood jumped strapped to an instructor and could be the oldest person to have skydived in South Africa

Skydivers in their 60s and 70s were fairly common, said Anton Schalabrino, a founding Member of Skydive Capetown. Nonagenarians jumpers were almost unheard of.

Schalabrino said Harwood was the oldest South African skydiver he or anyone at Skydive Capetown was aware of.

Skydiving was a long-time goal for Harwood.

The widowed mother of four has six grandchildren and 14 great-grandchildren. She keeps a full schedule, swimming and playing tennis as well as competitive croquet on a, relatively youthful, under-80 team. She also teaches bridge.

"We have to make appointments to go see her," said granddaughter Lynette.

The decision to jump cropped up at a family dinner. Lynette had complained that her skydiving father kept reneging on a promise to take her for a jump.

"He said don't worry, granny can take you."

And so granny did.

Harwood said she had barely become used to being in the plane when it was suddenly her turn to jump.

"My companion whisked me on to my feet and whisked me out of the airplane. You don't feel you're falling, that's what surprised me."

Harwood landed on the ground to cheers from her family and the skydiving staff.