Ready to jump? Betty Teegarden’s skydiving adventure

Betty Teegarden is at it again. Not content to become a biker babe for a week during the 75th Sturgis motorcycle rally, this nonagenarian recently decided to jump out of a perfectly good airplane just for kicks.

Teegarden’s original plan was to hang glide in tandem with a professional, but she couldn’t find anyone to do it. Even her son, a professional trick hang glider from Houston who has performed in Austria, France and other European venues, wasn’t optimistic about her finding such a person. She decided that skydiving was the next best choice.

Teegarden has had a jump in mind for years, but her late husband, who had a heart condition, dissuaded her. Teegarden agreed to put off that particular escapade, at least for a while.

But last summer, she was ready to go.
“I contacted Skydive Moab and set up an appointment,” Teegarden said.

Her instructor was Jack Lane, who appears in commercials for Red Bull and has an excellent safety record.

“I wasn’t afraid,” she said. “I figured he doesn’t have a death wish. Besides, he’s making too much money on those commercials to take chances.”

Teegarden’s good friend Vic Smiles, who had been her partner in the Sturgis run, drove her to Moab on a cloudless summer morning. Smiles has been skydiving since he was 17. Now he is 72.

“It’s more addictive than the strongest drug,” he said of the sport. “I told her she’d be hooked.”

Teegarden had to watch a video on the process, then sign paperwork releasing Skydive Moab from liability. Even the slight possibility of disaster didn’t deter her. She was kitted out with harnesses, goggles and other paraphernalia. Then they were off to the small plane that would carry them aloft to 10,000 feet.

Thermals kept bouncing the plane up and down, but eventually they reached their target altitude.

“Jack told me to step out onto a platform after he hooked us together. I had a heck of a time reaching it because my legs are so short,” said Teegarden.

They perched for a moment on the step. Then Lane leaned forward and they were in free-fall. He wore a wrist camera so he could record the entire adventure from Teegarden’s perspective.

The video shows her grinning, her short blonde hair blown out of its curls, her grin fluttering from the force of the air pushing against her.

The grin only got bigger as the paraplane chute released and Lane handed the control straps over to her. Canyons and spires spread out beneath them as they cruised toward earth.

“We soared and turned over Canyonlands,” Teegarden said. “It was absolutely fantastic!”

When they neared the landing site, Lane instructed her to hold her legs straight out and parallel to the ground so he could take the force of the landing himself. After a bump and a step or two, Teegarden’s awesome adventure was over.

She’s already talking about hooking up with a newly formed skydiving enterprise here in the Grand Valley. She would still like to hang glide in tandem, but for now, she’ll get her kicks with a paraplane and free-fall.

Watch Betty in action during her skydiving adventure in the video below.


Jan Weeks

Jan Weeks

Jan Weeks has been writing and dreaming since childhood. She’s worked as a public school teacher, heavy equipment operator, surgical ward secretary, waitress, administrative assistant and fly fishing guide. Her articles, short stories and essays have appeared in “Outdoor Life,” “Guideposts,” “Natural Health” and other markets. Her award-winning novels and short stories include “Season of Evil, Season of Dreams;” “The Centerville Code” and “Anna, Old.”
When she isn’t writing, she teaches writing workshops and edits both fiction and nonfiction manuscripts. She facilitates the Colorado West Writers’ Workshop and belongs to the Authors’ Guild. Visit her website for more information and links to her books and classes.
Jan Weeks

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