101-year-old Irene’s leap of faith

The Daily Telegraph (Sydney) - - News - LIZ WALSH

SHE held on tightly to her trusty walk­ing stick as she walked to­ward the plane, but threw it away be­fore board­ing.

She wouldn’t be need­ing it while freefalling at 220km/h through the clear blue sky.

Not the swirling coastal wind, not the hip re­place­ment a year ago, not ever her cen­te­nar­ian age could pre­vent Ade­laide’s 101-year-old Irene O’Shea, from be­com­ing the world’s old­est fe­male sky­diver.

And she wasn’t even ner­vous. In­stead, she smiled and waved at her 50-strong sup­port crew of fam­ily and friends — in­clud­ing most of her five grand­chil­dren and 11 great grand­chil­dren — as she boarded a Cessna 206 on route to 14,000ft and one gi­ant leap into the record books.

Born on May 30, 1916, Mrs O’Shea said af­ter land­ing: “It was just ter­rific, but I’m glad my feet are planted firmly back on the ground.”

While Irene her­self wasn’t ner­vous pre-jump, there was a ner­vous wait to see whether she’d be able to go sky­ward.

Not only had her sky­dive been post­poned five times since July due to bad weather, but yes­ter­day’s strong winds near the take­off area at Langhorne Creek brought an un­ex­pected four-hour wait for the wind to die down, which it did about 4pm.

“I haven’t done any prepa­ra­tion, be­cause I’ve never been fright­ened of heights, but you won’t get me near water,” she said with a laugh.

It was not the first time Mrs O’Shea has taken the leap of faith — her first sky­dive was last year for her 100th birth­day.

Irene takes a jump.

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