COLLEGE STATION, Texas - Former President George H.W. Bush celebrated his 80th birthday Sunday with a parachute jump from 13,000 feet over his presidential library.
He made a tandem jump — harnessed to a member of an Army's Golden Knights parachute team — after officials decided the wind conditions and low clouds made it too dangerous for the 41st president to jump alone, which he did when he turned 75.
"This was a real thrill for me," said Bush, wearing a black-and-gold jumpsuit. "I felt no fear ... for me to get a chance to jump with the Golden Knights is a dream."
With Sgt. Bryan Schnell on his back and a black-and-gold parachute ballooning above them, the former president waved his arms to some 4,000 spectators as he neared the drop zone — a painted logo of "41 at 80" in the center of a football-field-sized area on the grounds of his presidential library at Texas A&M University.
"It's been a great day," Bush said after sailing to the ground, landing and scooting a ways on his backside. "This was a day of joy and a day of wonder for the Bush family, certainly for the old guy."
The crowd included his wife, Barbara, his son Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and former Soviet president Mikhail Gorbachev — whom the former president had invited to jump with him.
"Afraid," Gorbachev said through an interpreter, explaining why he didn't accept the offer. "Maybe on his 90th birthday. ... For me, it would be a first. At my age, that may kill me."
Gorbachev gave Bush flowers and a bottle of vodka.
Bush jumped tandem early Sunday morning in a practice run, and decided weather conditions were too risky for a solo skydive.
Thats only about an hour from my house. I should have went.
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Ex-President Bush Makes Birthday Skydive
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