KENNEBUNKPORT, Maine — Former President George H.W. Bush celebrated his 90th birthday this morning by making a tandem parachute jump near his summer home in coastal Maine, delivering on a vow he made five years ago.
The nation’s 41st president jumped from a helicopter harnessed to Sgt. 1st Class Mike Elliott, a retired member of the Golden Knights, the Army’s parachute team, near Kennebunkport. Elliott guided Bush to a gentle landing five years ago.
This morning, the helicopter picked up Bush outside his home, known as Walker’s Point. His family moved him from wheelchair to the chopper, then sang “Happy Birthday” before it took off.
Bush later could be seen floating to the ground using a red, white and blue parachute. He landed safely and softly near St. Ann’s Church, according to a spokesman, out of the sight of reporters.
Witnesses said he was greeted with a hug and a kiss from his wife, Barbara, and a hug from his son George. The family then left the landing zone without talking to reporters stationed nearby.
Hundreds of people gathered on the rocky coast near the church to get a glimpse of the jump.
The jump was kept secret partly to give Bush himself the option of bagging it.