When one’s birthday falls on New Years Day, he or she doesn’t get the full impact of it being “his or her” day.
Such is the case with Kay Wilson. The 80-year-old whirlwind with the big smile celebrated her 80th birthday this year by jumping out of a perfectly good airplane.
“I did it because all my life everybody was celebrating (Jan. 1), but me, said Wilson.
“I never could remember my birthdays because I was taking care of my parents’ friends’ children (while the adults celebrated the New Year).”
This was actually the second time to skydive for Wilson. Her first foray into soaring through the air was 10 years ago, on the occasion of her 70th birthday.
“I just decided I was going to do something to remember it (my birthday),” she said. “I wanted to do something I’d never forget, and you don’t forget jumping out of an airplane.”
“It was always a little lonely not having my birthday on a regular day.
“Doing it on my 70th birthday was fun, but this was even more special.”
The original plan was to make her jump the first day of this year (actual birthday), but it was raining, so it had to be postponed until Jan. 4.
She, her husband, Graham, and a host of friends, went to Skydive South Texas in Port Aransas at 10 a.m. She jumped at 11 a.m. and was on the ground by 11:30 a.m.
Her husband and friends all declined to jump with her.
“I asked them to go with me, but none of them would (skydive with me). My friends are too scared,” Wilson laughed.
After the jump, she and her posse gathered for a big Italian lunch to celebrate.
The former United Airlines stewardess (more about stewardesses vs. flight attendants, later) said there are many misconceptions about skydiving.
She noted one free falls at first, and reaches speeds of about 125 mph.
“Then, when they pull the chord on the big parachute, it’s immediately so quiet and peaceful,” said Wilson. “I didn’t want it to end. I loved all of it.”
So what would she tell those who either haven’t gone skydiving, or refuse to skydive?
“You’re missing out on an incredible experience,” she said.
(Note: Wilson was a “stewardess” between 1960 and 1964. It was a much different era than today. “I had to quit my dream job when I got married,” said Wilson. “I’m still mad about that.”
Her sister, Patsy Phemister, was a Braniff Airlines “flight attendant” for 20-plus years until that airline went out of business. “She was allowed to be married when she was a flight attendant!” said Wilson.)