Los Angeles-based skydivers Pat and Alicia both hold multiple skydiving world records and between them have made almost 10,000 jumps. They both jump with the SOS (Skydivers over Sixty) organisation, launched by Pat in 2003. Bolder photographed them on Seal Beach, California.
Never say never
I decided to give skydiving a go when I was 37. I made two jumps on my first day and I’ve been doing it ever since. Had somebody told me back then that I’d still be jumping aged 86, I’d have said they were joking. For a start I wouldn’t have thought anyone would live to be that old! Now, 60 is the new 30. When I turned 80, I decided to try making 80 jumps in a day. I was able to do it in six hours and broke a world record – I made one jump every 4.55 minutes.
Sport is not just about sport
It’s not all about skydiving, it’s about what can you do with the sport. It’s very social. If someone offered me a plane for the day and said I could do as many jumps as I wanted, I wouldn’t do it. It would be pointless. Planning the jump and making the jump and then talking about it is a major draw. There are people from all walks of life who do it.
Aging well is all about attitude.
When we bought our house, I remember looking at the stairs and thinking, ‘will I want to be walking up and down those stairs in my eighties?’ The answer turned out to be yes. I don’t even use the banister as then you aren’t using your balance. I also have an exercise bench and free weights and do sit ups and stretches and whatever it takes to develop the stamina and strength to jump.
Planning the jump and making the jump and then talking about it is a major draw.
Karma is real
I’m a great believer in what goes around comes around. There was a time in my life when I wasn’t the same person I am now – I paid for that. If you put out good, for the most part, it’ll come back to you. You have to be kind to everyone you meet – but also kind to yourself.
Love at first sight exists
I thought love at first sight was something you read about in a magazine, but when I met Alicia, it was pitty pat right from the beginning. Ours is a partnership. There is no boss. We take good care of each other, we encourage each other and we support each other. We are simultaneously independent and dependent.
Travel keeps me feeling alive
Jumping in different places around the world is fun – I explore new countries like people explore stores in the mall. I don’t need a base. My house is just where I pack– a holding pen. One of my most memorable jumps was from the Royal Jordanian Air Force aircraft onto the Wadi Rum desert in Jordan. When we touched down, we were picked up in a four-wheel Jeep and taken for dinner in a Bedouin camp.
I realised I could tumble in the air and not get hurt. I thought that was pretty cool.
Don’t feel you have to follow the crowd
I met Pat through skydiving but to be honest I was totally happy being single. I wasn’t waiting for anyone. I don’t lead what people might think is a normal life and I would never want to. I have never wanted children. There may have been a stigma about that once, but not here in California. I have close girlfriends that are single and who don’t have kids, too. Pat and I don’t argue – to be honest, there’s nothing to argue about. We’re both fit and healthy and I’ve got tonnes of interests.
Stay involved, stay curious
For my 70th birthday we went to jump in Utah for three days. I love deserts. Wide open spaces like that are just alluring to me. Cactus bloom in the spring is unlike any other – those neon colours, the brightest pinks and purples and yellows that you’d ever want to see. There is so much to see in the world.