President George H.W. Bush celebrated his 90th birthday today by jumping out of a helicopter. And nobody tried to stop him.
The 41st president tweeted breezily several hours before the event: "It's a wonderful day in Maine — in fact, nice enough for a parachute jump."
Bush made the jump — his parachute was red, white and blue — even though he has mostly had to use a wheelchair to get around for the last year. He has vascular Parkinsonism, which causes symptoms similar to Parkinson's disease.
It was a tandem jump from a helicopter near his summer home in Kennebunkport, Maine. Bush was harnessed to Sgt. 1st Class Mike Elliott, a retired member of the Army's parachute team.
Television images captured the former president, noted for daredevil stunts in his retirement, floating gently to the Earth in what appeared to be a long arc.
It was the former world leader's eighth parachute jump. The first time, he had no choice.
In 1944 Bush was a 20-year-old torpedo bomber pilot serving in World War II. His squadron was on a mission when it was attacked. His plane's engine was on fire, but he released his bombs and headed back toward the aircraft carrier San Jacinto. On the way, he had to bail out over the ocean. Three other crew members died. Bush earned the Distinguished Flying Cross.
The former president has commemorated three other landmark birthdays with parachute jumps — plummeting to the Earth at 100 mph on his 75th, 80th and 85th.
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