Sandy man, 85, crosses sky diving off bucket list
While 85-year-old Bill Bassett has done many things in his life including military service in World War II and the Korean War Friday was his first time donning a parachute and jumping out of a plane.
"My grandson challenged me to do it," Bassett said by phone Friday morning, "and in a weak moment, I said yes."
Scott Smith, Bassett's 27-year-old grandson, took the leap also, while Smith's mother and stepfather, Kristen and Tim Micklos, of Cottonwood Heights watched from the ground, documenting the accomplishment of Bassett's last bucket-list item with a camera.
"My dad said that if George [H.W.] Bush did it, he can, too," Kristen Micklos said.
After retiring in 1988, Bassett and his wife, Helen, moved from Connecticut to Utah to be close to their daughters and grandchildren. His passion for skiing had already routinely drawn him to the Beehive State.
"He broke his shoulder last winter on his last ski run," Micklos said, noting that tumble didn't keep her octogenarian dad off the golf course.
Along with two sons and two daughters, the Bassetts also have 14 grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren.
"The kids call my parents 'the great ones,' " Micklos said.
Friday morning, Bassett voiced a mix of excitement and unease.
"Helen has been trying to tell me I'm nuts," Bassett said. "She's probably right."
For Brian Wallace, with 9,500 jumps under his belt, skydiving feels as natural as riding a bike.
He and his wife, Suzanne, own and operate Skydive Ogden, a small business celebrating its 20th year at the Ogden Hinckley Airport.
Suzanne Wallace said that their Turbine Grand Caravan takes sky divers up to about 12,000 feet or two miles above the Earth. Once they're over the drop zone and have been given the necessary approvals, "things happen pretty quick," she said.
"You free-fall for about one mile and one minute," Wallace said. "You have to have the physical ability but also the mental attitude that you want to jump from a perfectly good airplane."
Evidently Smith and Bassett fall in that category.
"We both had such a good time that we're thinking of doing a [larger] family thing. We'll plan a trip down to Moab and do it again," Bassett said by phone Friday evening.
Of the 60-second free fall, Bassett said that he and the instructor to whom he was connected did a somersault, a few spins and then started the descent.
"All of a sudden the chute opened, there was a big jerk and the rest was beautiful floating on down. It was just gorgeous."
Smith said he'll treasure the memory of his first sky dive with his grandfather.
"He's quite the stud."