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90-year-old celebrates birthday sky diving with great-granddaughter

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90-year-old celebrates birthday sky diving with great-granddaughter

Andrea Guin, 19, skydives for the first time celebrating her greatgrandfather's 90th birthday following him to the ground in his third jump.

Photo contributed/


POSTED August 5, 2009 2:58 a.m.
It was a sky-diving, birthday adventure from 13,000 feet marking Archie Shields’ 90th birthday for him and for his great-granddaughter Andrea Guin Saturday.

Shields had jumped twice before – once in 1990 and again in 1991 – but this was special since his great-granddaughter was going along.

He said she has always been a good kid, a good student and he wanted to do something special for her.  This was his chance to give her a gift he knew she would enjoy as an adventure she would never forget.

They went to the Acampo Airport alongside Highway 99 mid-day.  It would take two hours of waiting and preparation for their jumps.  They sat together on a couch in the airport before it was time to be strapped into their harnesses.  After getting into the jump plane there is definitely time to think while the aircraft climbs to the jump altitude.

Shields said he had jumped before from about 10,000 feet, but this would be higher at 13,000 feet where the air is somewhat oxygen starved.  Both he and Andrea felt the effects of the thin air, he said.  And she found the altitude colder than expected.  He, too, admitted it was pretty cool up there.

He said his great-granddaughter showed a cool excitement about the jump, much as she does for the “worst ever rides” at the amusement parks in the Bay Area.

Andrea stood in the open doorway of the airplane strapped to her tandem instructor with the wind and the prop wash blowing in her face.  They dove out together parallel with the left wing of the airplane before they dropped to a predetermined altitude where the rip cord was pulled and the parachute blossomed out above them.

More than a dozen family members were anxiously awaiting their safe landing on the green grass of the airfield.  Shields said that Andrea’s mother was on pins and needles worrying for her daughter’s safety.  She had tried to talk her daughter out of going on the adventure, but to no avail, he said.
They both posed for pictures on the way down and knuckled the photographer as they fell both seeing the airport property and Highway 99 coming up below them.
Out of the three jumps Shields admitted this was the first time he didn’t land on his butt – it was a good landing, he said.   Shields said he asked his brother – 10 years his junior – to go along, but he couldn’t convince him it was a good idea.

Saturday was the second day – the highlight of his birthday – but it didn’t stop there as he and his family members went out to lunch to celebrate.  Shields said in four or five years he may be doing this again – for the record books, of course.
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