The sky was literally the limit for Ivan Briggs, who didn’t miss a beat when he had the opportunity to celebrate his upcoming 90th birthday by jumping out of a plane.
A big George Bush fan, the Titusville man knew exactly how he wanted to celebrate his 90th and it wasn’t over cake and ice cream – it was over Kennedy Space Center as he plunged from thousands of feet in the air at the Skydive Space Center last week. George Bush Sr. famously made the jump for his 90th birthday as well.
“Age has never been a problem for me,” Briggs said. “If you’re feeling well and you’re able to do the things you want to do. ... Age does not become a variable.”
So when Ivan's son, Raymond, called with the opportunity to take the big jump, it was a no-brainer.
“That would be great,” he told him.
So the two loaded up and made their way to Arthur Dunn Airpark in Titusville, where Ivan said he wasn’t the least bit afraid.
“They (instructors) set the stage for the jump and so there was little concern or fear or anxiety. It was more like 'Let’s get going,' ” he said.
The plane went up and Ivan took the step of a lifetime out of the door and into thin air. His wife of 65 years, Carol, watched from below with a handful of other family members as Ivan sailed through the clouds.
"Because I had mentioned it so often to my wife, there wasn’t a trace of concern on her part," said Ivan, describing his wife's view of the jump. "It was more 'I’m glad it’s over.' "
For the first minute and 15 seconds of the jump, Ivan free-fell, strapped to one of the center's instructors.
"For a moment you’re not sure you can breathe because of the pressure coming at you, but there’s no real fear, you’re just amazed at what’s happening," said Ivan.
But as the parachute deployed, Ivan described the setting as "breathtaking."
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"You’re literally floating and then you look around, there's the Space Center. There's the area where you live. There's the Indian River," he said. "The view on a clear day is just fantastic."
As he came back down to earth, Ivan lifted his feet, and like he was bobsledding, skid onto a grassy field. His first reaction?
"I’m trying to think of the word," he said. "Awesome is probably good. Breathtaking. Exciting."
His family was all smiles as he walked back to the stands where guests can watch from afar.
"He plays tennis, he walks over two miles in the morning at 6 a.m. He’s involved in Kiwanis, a number of things. He’s an amazing specimen," said his son, Don, who beamed at his father's accomplishment. "He's got more energy than anyone you know."