103 year-old extreme granny goes on a spectacular dive 21.08.2013

103 year-old extreme granny goes on a spectacular dive

And lands in the Guinness Book of World Records as the oldest skydiver.


Rede Globo's Esporte Espetacular show has proved that joy, zest for life, and a taste for adrenalin are not privileges of the young. Last Sunday, 18th, the network aired the report taped on the 9th and 10th of this month featuring the 103 year-old grandmother who traveled from Macapá (AP) to Foz do Iguaçu to skydive.


Aida Gemaque da Silva, the extreme granny, is going into the Guinness Book of Records as the oldest skydiver in the world. She has outdone Danish Estrid Geertsen, who jumped at the age of 100 years and 60 days in 2004.





Wonderfully friendly and joyful, the grandmother won everyone's heart everywhere she went. She also dazzled the audience when, a few meters off the ground, she celebrated the adventure by waiving to spectators, who returned her gesture by clapping and whistling.


What is she afraid of? “Jaguars. I am afraid of jaguars. Of skydiving, I am not,” she would serenely say a few hours before she jumped for the third time: the first two were in Macapá, at 100 and 102 years old.


Born in Chaves, in the middle of the Amazon Forest close to the Amazon River delta, Aida Mendes moved to Macapá “about 50 years ago.” She used to be a rubber tapper. “I have worked a lot in this life,” she says, her eyes lost in the past. She raised five children (three are now deceased) working in the forest and mentions the names of each member of her family, which further includes ten grandchildren and ten great-grandchildren.


“How do you feel when you skydive?,” the reporter asked, as did several other people who followed Aida's adventure in Foz. “Happy, very happy,” she always answered.


On Saturday, the day of the jump, Aida arrived composed and collected to Skydive Foz, where the instructors were awaiting her. She would talk patiently and attentively to reporters while she put on her jumpsuit and parachute, aided by her great-granddaughter Ana Clara dos Santos, and her grandson, Josivaldo dos Santos, who escorted her from Macapá.


The jump



Aida Mendes jumped upon an invitation from Skydive Foz. “It is Brazil, it is Foz, we are honored to be making it possible for this to be recorded into history,” said Thiago Peretti, the owner of Skydive Foz, himself an experienced skydiver. Peretti and instructor Paulo Roberto "PG" da Silva, oversee the jump in Foz do Iguaçu. It was with PG, who boasts over 9,000 jumps in his résumé, that Aida skydived the other two times in Macapá. “I'd rather think she is my guardian angel,” the instructor said.


The images of the jump show that which she repeated to exhaustion: joy. She would smile and wave at those on the ground, following grandma Iaiá's adventure with watchful eyes and applause. After about 5 minutes in the air, along with PG and beholding the Itaipu power plant, one of the 7 Wonders of the Modern World, grandma Iaiá got to the ground already holding the Guinness record, substantiated by the Brazilian Skydiving Confederation and filed with a Notary Public's Office. “I'll be waiting for you again at 104,” PG said. “Let's go,” replied the old lady, without hesitating.


On the ground, celebration, hugs and photos, lots of photos. Not to mention some beer, which she had promised to have as soon as she was back on the ground. Incredibly healthy – she is on no medications -, grandma Iaiá said she had been smoking since she was 10 years old but quit about 20 years ago. Now, she has an occasional beer. “Just one glass,” she guaranteed. Active, Aida also swims, walks and runs. To top it off, at least once a week she goes dancing at the senior citizens' group she attends in Macapá.


The attractions


On her way through Foz do Iguaçu, before she jumped she also stopped by the Waterfalls – “If I had known they were so gorgeous I would have brought a bathing suit to go for a swim” – and from the ground she saw the Itaipu power plant, which provided the setting for the jump. “I never dreamed I'd be standing where Brazil's energy is produced,” she said, marveling at the grand landscape of the dam and the lake filled by the power plant. “I have been to a lot of places, but I have never seen anything more striking than this.”


Wherever Aida went, people showered her with kindness and attention. At Itaipu, where she turned into an attraction in her own right, she posed for photos with visitors. On behalf of the Itaipu Tourist Complex, Guilherme Tell Laurino thanked Aida for her visit. “We turn out a lot of energy, but your energy is very important as well,” Guilherme told the grandmother.


Is there anything else she still dreams of? “I'd like to visit Nova Olinda [AM], where my brother lives [she has two siblings still alive],” she said with nostalgic eyes. Easy, for someone who has jumped three times.


On the small screen



On Sunday's Esporte Espetacular, the piece on Aida lasted over ten minutes. Narrated by Carol Barcelos, the report featured images owned by the TV network and also Thiago Peretti, the owner of Skydive, and Felipe Caveirinha, one of the people in charge of the tandem jump in Foz do Iguaçu.

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