Flying high at 80
Woodstock resident Kady Rachford had a unique birthday wish some people might call dangerous and possibly crazy, but she called a wonderful idea.
Rachford said after reading about one woman celebrating her 80th birthday by plunging through the sky, she decided she wanted to have her own skydiving adventure in celebration of the onset of her own 80th year.
“I had a boring childhood. I’m making up for it now,” she said, laughing.
The longtime Woodstock resident has lived in the area since 1962 with her husband, Fred.
She worked as a stay-at-home mom and raised nine children in the “Groundhog Day” house; though the family moved out of the house before the movie was filmed.
Two of Rachford’s sons, as well as a granddaughter, are no strangers to skydiving – Rachford said their love for the sport also inspired her to give it a try.
“My granddaughter Dani was so excited [for me],” she said.
Rachford signed up for her birthday skydiving adventure with Skydive Chicago, Ottawa.
Her son, Tim, and Dani joined her on the plane to dive, too.
“It was the thrill of a lifetime,” she said. “I’m still flying high.”
Training and preparations for the skydiving excursion included an orientation session in which instructors provided information regarding what to expect and what risks to be aware of.
A video demonstration showing what to do and what not to do also was mandatory.
Rachford said she also had to sign a “gazillion” papers before taking the plunge.
After boldly jumping out of the plane, she said she wasn’t scared but was surprised at how quickly she and her tandem partner, Jeff, dropped through the air.
“The best part [of the experience] was just all that floating and looking around, seeing the scenery,” she said. “It was very exhilarating. The other best part was knowing how excited Dani and Tim were [to be there with me].”
The whole dive lasted about 10 to 15 minutes from start to finish.
A few nervous family members, including a few of her other children, accompanied Rachford to the skydiving school and waited below as she sailed through the air.
The newly-turned 80-year-old said she had a glorious time and hopes to try her hand at skydiving once again next spring or summer.
“Being in your 80s, it’s only a number,” she said. “If you are feeling halfway decent, what difference does it make?”
When asked if she planned on participating in any other daring activities in the near future, Rachford laughed.
“I raised nine kids. That was pretty adventurous,” she said.