84-year-old woman plans to skydive

NEW ULM – An 84-year-old New Ulm woman plans to tandem skydive Friday with some of her family at the Forest Lake airport.

Edna Roegiers, a widower for the past decade, retired from Kraft Foods about 20 years ago. She stays fit in her retirement years by exercising several times a week at Vogel Fieldhouse in New Ulm.

Other than that, she hasn’t been doing any other skydiving preparation.

“I don’t think it’s much of a big deal (to tandem skydive), but some of my family may not be too crazy about it. But I’ve got a big family.” Roegiers said. “I’ve been talking about skydiving with some of the family since I was 80.

Her stepdaughter, Chris Kocinski of Fridley and her son Ben plan to tandem skydive Friday with Roegiers.

“I hope it’s not too windy Friday,” Roegiers said.

Low clouds, rain, and freezing temperatures are the most likely conditions to prevent skydiving, according to Parachutistonline.com. What some skydivers consider too much wind is not enough to prevent it for others.

Wind factors to consider include sustained wind speed, speed and range in speed of wind gusts, skydiver experience level, the size of the landing area, and turbulence created as winds pass over obstacles upwind of the landing spot, according to Parachutist.

United States Parachute Association (USPA) Basic Safety Requirements (BSRs) limit student jumpers to winds of 14 mph or less, 10 mph or less if the student is equipped with a round reserve canopy.

Local Safety & Training Advisors can raise the limits. Some advisors have raised the wind limits at their drop zones to allow solo students to continue to jump win winds as high as 20 mph, according to Parachutist.

There are no wind limits in the BSRs for licensed skydivers, but common sense is advised. Gusty winds can be tricky, according to Parachutist.

A passion for speed may have something to do with skydiving. Free-falling skydivers reached speeds of 120 to 150 mph before deploying their parachute.

The Guiness world record for the Oldest female tandem parachute jump was set by Estrid Geertsen, who made a tandem parachute jump over Roskilde, Denmark from an altitude of 13,100 feet, when she was 100 years and 60 days old.

The oldest man to tandem skydive was only a little older than Geertsen. Two years ago, Fred Mack of Newtown Square, N.J. celebrated his 100th birthday by doing a 13,000 feet tandem skydive at Free Fall Adventures in Williamstown, N.J., setting the world record for the Oldest tandem skydiving jumper.

Mack has other claims to fame. He flew planes in the 1930s and helped design the P-40 fighter plane during World War II, according to the World Record Academy (WRA).

On top of that, Mack was still driving his 1953 Jaguar XK 120 at 100 and was confirmed by car maker as the oldest active Jaguar driver in the world. Skiing is another passion of his. Mack was a competitive skier into his 70s and didn’t stop skiing until he was in his 90s, according to the WRA.

Fritz Busch can be e-mailed at fbusch@nujournal.com.

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