SAN MARCOS, Texas - A Georgetown man became the oldest person to do a tandem parachute jump. Governor Greg Abbott went along with 106-year-old Al Blaschke for the record-breaking skydive.
Under an overcast sky, Governor Abbott floated to a soft landing on a field just east of San Marcos. The tandem skydive on Monday morning at Fentress Airpark was a first for Abbott.
"The most shocking sensation is when you immediately exit the plane, and you're just in free fall," said Abbott.
That initial rush was followed by another surprise.
"As soon as that chute falls it's like, just amazing peace out there. It's nice and calm, and I think my favorite part was when you seem like you're at a standstill in the middle of air," said Abbott.
Governor Abbott started his day on an airplane because of a promise he made a year ago to Al Blashke. The two met about a year ago on a campaign video shoot.
Blashke, who lives in Georgetown and is 106 years old, told Abbott how he once held the world record for the Oldest Tandem Jump when he was 100. He made a second jump at 103 to celebrate the graduation of his grandchildren. Blaschke’s record was recently broken, which brought about his decision to suit up again.
The take-off Monday was briefly delayed by low clouds and when the plane got off the ground weather conditions limited the climb to 9,000 feet above Central Texas. The 106-year-old Georgetown resident became the oldest person to do a tandem parachute jump. On the ground, he and the governor celebrated the accomplishment with a handshake.
Later, Blaschke told FOX 7 his leap of faith should be a message to those who think they are too old to try something new.
"You're just underestimating yourself if you don't do things. Everybody does that and everybody's more capable of doing things that they don't do, if they just try 'em," said Blaschke.
About the time the governor was jumping out of the airplane, state lawmakers were returning to Austin for what's left of the special session. The legislative fate of Abbott’s school choice idea remains up in the air.
Special Session 4 ends next week, prompting FOX 7 to ask Gov. Abbott if he was ready to call Special Session 5, or if he was holding out hope for a last-minute deal.
"Rudy, you got to stay tuned," responded Abbott.
There may be a reason for Abbott’s optimism, even if a 5th try under the capitol dome is needed. The governor’s skydive was delayed four times before getting off the ground. The eventual jump and landing at Fentress Airpark provided extra meaning to the song Al sang on the way down, and later with the governor. The final verse of the song came with the message to keep smiling.
Al Blaschke turns 107 in January. There's a possibility he may be back at the Fentress Airpark to push that record a little higher.