Having traveled across the world, Marshall Cox is taking his adventures in a new direction — upward.
Cox has been sky diving three times in the last two years. That includes two times last month — just before his 82nd birthday on June 24.
“A lot of people tried to talk me out of it,” he said. “But I’ve always wanted to do it — I’m not getting any younger.”
He jokes that he’s trying to keep up with former President George H.W. Bush, who celebrated his 90th birthday with a tandem dive last month. Bush celebrated his 75th, 80th and 85th birthdays the same way, and has made other jumps.
Cox originally wanted to make a jump at 75, but foot surgery prevented it.
Then, on July 1, 2012, he decided to give it a try at age 80, and went to the Illinois Sky Diving Center, then located at Flatville.
“It was great,” he recalled, adding he was a little shaky, especially when his large foot stepped out onto the plane’s small step.
He even wrote a poem about his dream finally being fulfilled.
His second time took place June 14 this year when he went to the center, now located at Paxton, just to check on what time his jump would be the following week. The instructor wasn’t busy at that time, and on the spur of the moment, Cox was able to go up.
The third experience took place June 21. All three jumps were tandems, where the instructor is strapped to the jumper. Because of his age, Cox had to land on his backside instead of on his feet.
His wife, Joyce, 81, could only cover her face when her husband made the jumps.
When asked if she would ever jump, she quickly answered, “No. Never.”
Cox said the plane goes up 10,000 feet; after the jump, the jumper rolls around a bit until a small chute opens and balances everything. The bigger parachute opens at 5,000 feet, he said.