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Video: Vernon senior soars from new height

Legally blind Bernard Ramsay, formerly of Quesnel, goes skydiving for first time a day after 85th birthday

His daughter, in winter, said ‘let’s do that.’

His doctor, a few days before, said, ‘go for it.’

And before he knew it, on a hot Saturday afternoon near the Vernon Regional Airport, retired millwright Bernard Ramsay of Vernon celebrated his 85th birthday a day later by jumping out of an airplane.

“I’ve always wanted to do this,” smiled Ramsay, who turned 85 June 24,” and who is legally blind. “It was just a thought, like I might as well do it before I get old.”

The idea was struck sitting around the kitchen table with his daughter, Dianne Green of Vernon. Ramsay mentioned he wanted to go skydiving, something he had said similar five years earlier to family for his milestone 80th birthday, but the jump never came to fruition.

I said, ‘Oh that sounds cool, let’s do it,” said Green. “I think he expected me to say no.”

With his 85th birthday approaching, Green sent out a message to family that Ramsay wanted to jump out of an airplane for his birthday. Green’s brother Darren was asked if he’d go with Bernard, and said yes.

Four more family members texted they’d love to jump with dad or grandpa.

The day before the jump, son-in-law Bryan Dumaine from Quesnel, married to Ramsay’s daughter, Sue, was in town to watch and decided he’d go out of the plane as well.

So Ramsay was joined by sons Nick of Edmonton and Darren of Vernon, son-in-laws Dumaine of Quesnel and Daryl Sanderson of Vernon, and grandson Trevor Langham of Maple Ridge for the jump at Okanagan Skydive, adjacent to the Vernon Airport, Saturday, June 25.

After receiving on-ground training from Ted Bates of Okanagan Skydive, and harnessed safely by his tandem jumper Bruce Goode, Ramsay and Nick walked to the small Cessna, piloted by 21-year-old Vernonite Zack Laranjo, who also has strong family ties to the Cariboo (Williams Lake).

Friends and family from Vernon and Quesnel cheered on Ramsay as headed to the plane (the four other jumpers watched and conducted their jumps in pairs, similar to Ramsay and Nick following their skydive).

It would take Laranjo about 20 minutes to reach the jump height of 10,000 feet, then Ramsay and Goode would tandem out of the plane first with family looking skyward.

The blue-and-white parachute – the colours of Scotland, perfect for Ramsay, from Aberdeen – opened without a hitch and Ramsay and Goode fluttered to the ground, landing perfectly with family cheering on.

“It was excellent,” beamed Ramsay after the five-minute parachute ride back to solid ground. “It was fine. After the free dive and we floated down…it was fabulous.

“I can’t wait to do this again when I turn 90.”

Vernon’s Bernard Ramsay (left) is joined by tandem pilot Bruce Goode of Okanagan Skydivie as the prepare to board a plane for Ramsay’s first-ever skydive, marking the occasion of his 85th birthday. (Roger Knox - Black Press)
Bernard Ramsay of Vernon (front) with tandem pilot Bruce Goode of Okanagan Skydive floats majestically to earth celebrating Ramsay’s 85th birthday with his first-ever skydive. (Roger Knox - Black Press)
Vernon’s Bernard Ramsay (left) gets a high-five from tandem pilot Bruce Goode of Okanagan Skydive after Ramsay completed his first-ever jump from an airplane Saturday, June 25, one day after his 85th birthday. (Roger Knox - Black Press)

Roger Knox

About the Author: Roger Knox

I am a journalist with more than 30 years of experience in the industry. I started my career in radio and have spent the last 21 years working with Black Press Media.
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