SHELTON – Monty Montgomery looked puzzled as his daughter helped slip his feet into a dark purple jump suit.
The suit wasn’t necessary the last time the 87-year-old Tacoma man jumped out of an airplane.
“If I would have known this, I wouldn’t have put my long johns on,” Montgomery said.
Montgomery was one of four generations of his family who arrived at Skydive Kapowsin in Shelton on Friday morning to suit up and jump from a Cessna Caravan cruising at 13,000 feet.
Plagued by macular degeneration, Montgomery is losing his sight, and he wanted to experience the thrill of sky-diving one last time.
His first jump was seven years ago when he met his grandson, Buddy Haskins of Lacey, who was stationed with the Army in Hawaii. After working 28 years in the tugboat business in Tacoma, Montgomery decided to take to the skies for a new adventure.
“He just had a blast – it was all he could talk about for the longest time,” Haskins said of the Hawaii jump. “He might have even lost his dentures on the way down.”
Montgomery did the tandem jump alone in Hawaii, but this time he wanted family by his side.
“There are four generations and it all started with me,” he said candidly as he walked into the main office of the sky-diving company wearing a checkered shirt and suspenders.
He was joined by his daughter, Donna Haskins, 60, of Wenatchee; grandson Buddy Haskins, who is slated to be deployed to Afghanistan next year; and great-granddaughter Samera Ramey, 19, of Wenatchee.
Five others showed up to provide moral support.
With Montgomery’s eyesight rapidly failing and his grandson’s deployment looming, the family chose to make the jump Friday.
“It’s taken me seven years now, but I’m really excited,” Donna Haskins said before jumping. “I was the only one who was hesitant.”
Buddy Haskins, who is a helicopter pilot in the Army, has jumped from a plane using a static line, but until Friday, had never done a free fall.
“What are you going to yell when you jump out of the plane?” asked one of Montgomery’s grandchildren.
His response: “Geronimo!”
The mix of excitement and nerves remained until each slid out of the plane and began the 50-second free fall to 5,000 feet. At that point, tandem instructors pulled the rip cord and they gently glided to the ground to the cheers of onlooking family members.
All four were smiling from ear to ear after landing.
“So do you feel like a 21-year-old again?” sky-dive videographer Anton Richards asked Montgomery.
“No, I feel like a 16-year-old,” he replied.
Then he said he wanted to go again. And his family members said the feeling was mutual.
“You cannot describe the feeling,” Donna said. “The free fall was just awesome.”
And Montgomery is anything but done with adventure: His next goal is to go bungee jumping.
As for sky diving, he said, “On my 90th birthday, we’ll talk about it.”firstname.lastname@example.org 360-754-5476 theolympian.com/thisjustin @chelseakrotzer