UNION, NJ — Kenny Meyer of Union chose to celebrate his 102nd birthday by jumping out of an airplane and in doing so entered the Guinness Book of World Records as the oldest skydiver ever, a record previously held by a 101-year-old British woman.
“I was proud for my country,” Meyer of Union told LocalSource in a July 28 phone interview. “Everyone kept shouting ‘U.S.A., U.S.A.’”
The plane was flown over Sussex County on Thursday, July 27, and Meyer was under the supervision of a professional who kept him calm and guided him through the skydive.
“He just kept talking to me the whole time,” Meyer said. “Everything was so beautiful and we fell slowly to what appeared so small.”
Meyer had mastered his fear during his many years of living and didn’t think twice about doing this for America.
“I told my grandkids I would have gone skydiving four years ago,” Meyer said. “It never came to be so I went myself. When I heard about the record, I knew I could beat it and take the No. 1 record for the United States!”
His wife, Eleanor, 25 family members and many friends came to Sussex to watch Meyer. He arrived bright and early at 8:15 a.m. to do leg and back exercises, and take his usual medications before getting into the airplane.
The experience cost $285 and the Meyer family plans to submit evidence of his jump to Guinness Book of World Records for confirmation. From very early that morning, Meyer was ready to take the jump.
“I was in World War II,” he said. “I can do this.”
Originally from Brooklyn, Meyer moved to Union when he was 16 years old and he lived in Westfield for a few years, too. His children live in the area and they watched him wave an American flag as he was lifted backward into the plane.
Meyer jumped from more than 14,500 feet in the air. Everyone gazed in amazement and someone actually captured a photo of him as he stepped out of the plane. Eventually, a blue parachute opened gracefully and it took a total of 15 minutes for him to land.
“I didn’t expect this to be front page news,” Meyer said. “I thought it would be a small sports story. After I fell, I told the guy ‘I’m fine. I’m alive too.’ Now I have a story to tell. “I remember flying to Florida,” he added. “I always wanted the window seat.”
On Saturday, July 29, Meyer was interviewed in his home by “The Today Show” about the skydiving record he proudly earned for the United States.
Meyer has no regrets for his decision to skydive at his age. He said it actually observed positive benefits on his health.
“I slept good that night,” Meyer said. “I was in a deep sleep after I went skydiving. I was well rested. The instructor told me to keep breathing. I was instructed by an expert. It was a piece of cake. It feels awesome to earn the record. I’ll never forget hearing everyone hollering, ‘U.S.A., U.S.A.’ Now I just want to party!”