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92-Year-Old Takes the Ride of Her Life

A daring great-grandmother earns her wings



We’ve all been taught to respect our elders, but 92-year-old Jane Bockstruck
surely deserves our admiration, too.

Bockstruck, who lives in the western New Hampshire town of Swanzey, celebrated her most recent birthday by dropping 13,000 feet out of an airplane.

So, what made her do it?

“I don’t know what gave me the idea, but I thought, ‘I guess I’ll jump out of a plane.’ Then I stuck with the story and did it,” Bockstruck told The Associated Press after her 120-mph tandem free fall in Orange, Massachusetts. “But it’s scary. It’s scary mostly when you get up there getting ready to go out the door.”

After going out the door and making it safely to the ground, Bockstruck’s instructor, Paul Peckham Jr., decided that the daring great-grandmother deserved much more than just a certificate. So the former Air Force combat controller cut the parachutist wings he had sewn 30 years ago on his own helmet bag and gave them to his student.

“These silver wings represent courage, and you certainly displayed that today,” Peckham told her.

Said Bockstruck of the jump, which she accomplished in front of her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren: “It was nice. It was quite windy and cold, but we had a lot of clothes on. Of course, if you’ve got somebody with you, it’s a little warmer. You know, two of us.”

Their outing lasted roughly 10 minutes. “She was asking, ‘Where’s the landing area?’ I pointed down to the airport,” Peckham said. “I pointed out the Quabbin Reservoir and Mount Monandnock and the Berkshire Mountains. She acknowledged they were there; she could see them.”

She started waving to her family between 4,000 and 5,000 feet.

Peckham said he has seen people much younger balk at the prospect of skydiving.

“She knew exactly what she was doing,” he said. “I’m sure she was nervous
and anxious and possibly a little afraid. She went ahead and did it. I call that courage.”


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