WWII veteran jumps from perfectly good plane alongside Texas governor

by Tommy Grant

Add this to Texas Gov. Greg Abbott ‘s high ambitions: Parachuting from a plane.

The three-term Republican governor skydived Monday for the first time, completing a tandem jump from about 8,000 feet (2,400 meters) above the suburbs between Austin and San Antonio. He was joined on the plane by 106-year-old World War II veteran Al Blaschke, who jumped separately.

Blaschke is a previous Guinness World Records title holder for oldest tandem skydive. Last month, a 104-year-old Chicago woman skydived in an effort to become the new record holder. She died a week after her jump.

Abbott said skydiving has crossed his mind before.

“The most shocking sensation is when you immediately exit the plane, and you’re just in freefall,” Abbott told reporters after landing.

Abbott, 66, uses a wheelchair and has been paralyzed from the waist down since a tree fell on him as a young law school student. He joked to reporters after the jump that his biggest fear was realized: “I would land, and I would not be able to walk away,” he said, smiling.

Abbott said they had wanted to skydive several weeks ago when the weather was warmer but that rain scuttled those plans. There was a morning chill in Texas when Abbott and Blaschke made their jumps.

“He’s an old pro,” Abbott said.

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