'I was flying': 92-year-old goes paragliding in B.C.
Angela Jung, CTV News Vancouver
Published Saturday, August 17, 2019 2:05PM PDT
Jean Spierling is unstoppable.
The 92-year-old California woman has been living a life filled with adventure. She's gone scuba diving and parasailing, competed in the Iron Man triathlon three times and when she was 75, she summited Mt. Kilimanjaro.
A couple of years ago, she and her daughter, Carol Spierling, wanted to go paragliding when they went to the Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming, but plans fell through.
This year, on their annual mother-daughter trip, they made sure they would check off that bucket-list item.
The day before they took the flight, they visited Sea to Sky Paragliding in Pemberton to get acquainted with the instructor and prepare for the flight.
When it actually came time to fly on Friday, Jean said she didn't feel nervous.
"I wasn't scared but my legs started shaking like mad…I wish I had taken a seasick pill before I went," she said with a chuckle.
When they finally took off, she was overcome with euphoria.
"Just like I was flying, like an eagle. I didn't see any eagles, but I wish I had," she said.
While Jean was in the air, Carol also went on a tandem flight and the pair could be seen in the skies.
"I wouldn't want to do any adventure like this without her," she said. "When I tell [my friends] about my mom they understand why I am the way I am. Because I don’t sit still well and I'm pretty active."
The founder of the Sea to Sky Paragliding said seeing the duo was inspiring.
"It was cool to see how they goaded each other on and having an absolute joy for life in their senior years -- it's fantastic," Guy Herrington.
Herrington said the youngest person he flew with was seven and the oldest was 87.
But now Jean is the oldest person he has ever flown with.
She may even be the oldest person to fly tandem in Canada.
"It probably is. I have not heard of anyone of that age before going for an instructional flight," said Margit Nance, the executive director of Hang Gliding and Paragliding Association of Canada.
Nance explained the association certifies pilots and does not typically keep records of the oldest or youngest people to take flight.
So, unofficially, Jean is the oldest person to go tandem paragliding in Canada. According to the Guinness World Records, the record was broken by a 104-year-old woman who went tandem paragliding in Karaoglanoglu, Northern Cypress in 2012.
"It's really great to have that honour here," Jean said.
The Spierlings already have sights on another adventure while they're in B.C.: kayaking with the orcas.