A 90-year-old’s skydiving birthday

Betty Hind, 90, skydived with her grandson Sam Hind. Photo: Supplied.

Three generations of Betty Hinds’ family turned out at Tauranga Airport for her remarkable dive into the start of her nonagenarian decade.

Betty’s uplifting story about falling, or rather leaping from an airplane, began as a sudden thought, not a lifelong dream as one may expect.

“It was my 90th birthday and I decided to do it."

"I thought: ‘I’ve got to do something special for it’, and a couple of months before my birthday I had a sudden thought,” says Betty.

“I wanted to jump as a gift for myself.”

She organised her adventure with Skydive Tauranga.

“When I rang up about it he asked: ‘How high would you like to go?’ and I said: ‘I didn’t know I had a choice, I’m turning 90’.

He said: ‘Well, we will do the highest one then’. “I would have done the highest one anyway. You might as well.”

There are two options with Skydive Tauranga, to jump from 12,000 feet, or as Betty did, jump from 15,000 feet.

With some of the most unique views in New Zealand, it meant Betty got to see a breath-taking mix of golden sand beaches, waterways, city, mountains and volcanoes.

On a clear day it’s possible to see the Coromandel, White Island, Rotorua, Mount Ruapehu and even Mount Taranaki.  

And of course, below, her hometown of Mount Maunganui and the surrounding area.

Having lived in Bayswater Village at Mount Maunganui for the last seven-and-a-half years, Betty says she is an “old Mountie”.

“Before Bayswater, I lived in Tay St for 48 years.

"My husband Robert was a tug master – they called him Bob.”

She says Bob, who loved his job, died about 17 years ago. During those Tay St years, Betty did odd jobs, worked in local shops and at the Mount Maunganui camping ground.

She loves the area, so why not see it from the air and dive down onto it?

The plane can take two tandems at a time and Betty was delighted to find at the last minute she was being joined in the air by her grandson Sam Hind, who she says flew in from the Mediterranean.

Betty Hind descending from the sky. Photo: Supplied.

“Sam had been away for five years.

"I didn’t know he was coming home for my birthday.

"It was quite a surprise and he decided at the last minute he’d jump with me.

“Four of us went up in the plane and my grandson and his tandem came down first.”

Betty’s February descent, which is the most notable ‘drop’ in her bucket list to date, was viewed from below by her daughter Dee and granddaughter Nicky who live in Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada.

They made a point of flying to New Zealand for the event and for her birthday.

Betty’s son Kevin and family from Auckland were also in town for the celebration.

Asked what’s next on the bucket list, Betty says she doesn’t think she’d do a bungy jump.

But she does have a word of encouragement for anyone contemplating doing something new or challenging in their life.

“Just do it!”

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