Thrill-seeking Grandad Celebrates 90th Birthday With 15,000 Feet Skydive


Former paratrooper Ted Pieri checks his goggles before completing a skydive at the Old Sarum airfield on August 10, 2017 in Salisbury, England.  (Photo by Leon Neal/Getty Images)

A thrill seeking grandad has celebrated his 90th birthday by skydiving from 15,000 feet . Frank Ward’s described his descent down to earth as both “absolutely magnificent” and “terrifying” at the same time. 

The retired marketing manager, who previously took the plunge while in the parachute regiment 70 years ago, tandem-jumped with another ex-military serviceman last week. 

Frank’s aerial heroics also raised over £2,000 for charity, which he will donate to the nursing home where his wife Margaret, 81, has spent the last 18 months. 

Former paratrooper Fred Glover comes into land during a skydive at the Old Sarum airfield on August 10, 2017 in Salisbury, England.  (Photo by Leon Neal/Getty Images)
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He insisted he wasn’t “nervous” prior to the jump but did worry that his heart would be “working overtime” during the extremely rapid free-fall. He said: “The drop was absolutely magnificent. It was terrifying but it was great. 

“I lost in pressure in my ears – and it sounded like everything was coming from half a mile away. I felt quite calm, apart from the fact that my heart was working enthusiastically. I was a bit worried because it’s an old engine, and it was working overtime. 

“But then I landed and felt on top of the world – having survived.” 

The nonagenarian from Harrogate, North Yorks, said he took on the jump at the nearby Hibaldstow Sky Diving Centre on September 28 to commemorate his birthday.

 He said: “I’m in my 90th year, and I thought I’d like to do something to celebrate that, and a friend of mine, a lady who had a bucket list did it, and I thought that wouldn’t be a bad idea. 

“I was in the parachute regiment during my national service, but that was 70 years ago, and it was an entirely different thing altogether, really. And when I was in Türkiye on holiday, I did a paragliding trips, but that was nice and warm, and we landed on the beach, and my wife approached me with a glass of brandy.” 

Frank said he felt a little “queasy” after jumping out of the propeller plane at 15,000ft but knew he was in safe hands with his ex-paratrooper tandem partner. He said: “My tandem partner introduced himself saying, “I’m the chief instructor here, and I served in the first battalion of the paras” and then we got on like a house on fire. 

“And I was strapped so tight to the fellow behind me, I felt like if I wanted to get out of it, I couldn’t anyway. I had a fatalistic attitude to the whole thing.” 

He added: “You go from 15,000ft and you drop about 10,000ft in 50 seconds or so, and then for the last bit you float down nicely on the end of the parachute. 

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“He let me fly it, going right and left, and he showed me the Humber – and you could see all of Cleethorpes and all the places. It was a magnificent day.” 

Former paratrooper Fred Glover (R) speaks to the media following a skydive at the Old Sarum airfield on August 10, 2017 in Salisbury,  (Photo by Leon Neal/Getty Images)

Frank said he was motivated to do the jump to help buy new wheelchairs for the home where carers are currently looking after his beloved wife, Margaret. “My wife has been in a nursing home now for 18 months, and occasionally I’ll take her out in a wheel chair, and they are always going wrong. 

“And it occurred to me that I could marry the two ideas together and raise money for the nursing home. There’s going to be an awful lot of pressure on nursing homes this year, because they have difficulty with staffing anyway. And then the cost of heating them and looking after them is going to be enormous, and the last thing they’ll want to do is buy new equipment for this sort of thing.

“So I feel very satisfied that I’m doing something to help them in this way. I didn’t realize it would snowball like this. It’s tremendous.” 

Produced in association with SWNS.

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