A Week After Her Last Skydive, Woman Dies at 104

Chicago woman Dorothy Hoffner took up hobby at 100
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Oct 2, 2023 12:48 PM CDT
Updated Oct 11, 2023 2:00 AM CDT
Woman, 104, Becomes World's Oldest Skydiver
Dorothy Hoffner, 104, walks out to the plane with tandem jumper Derek Baxter as she becomes the oldest person in the world to skydive Sunday, Oct. 1, 2023, at Skydive Chicago in Ottawa, Ill.   (Brian Cassella/Chicago Tribune via AP)
UPDATE Oct 11, 2023 2:00 AM CDT

Just a week after she made headlines when she went skydiving at age 104, Dorothy Hoffner died at home while sleeping Sunday overnight into Monday. The Chicago woman, who never married or had children, referred to nurse Joe Conant, 62, as her grandson, and Conant tells the New York Times that while Hoffner was "not excited" at first about the attention she got after her jump, she soon "looked at it as an opportunity to meet new people"—though she turned down an opportunity to appear on Drew Barrymore's talk show. Conant says he last spoke with Hoffner Sunday at the senior center and she was in good spirits, promising him they'd have dinner soon.

Oct 2, 2023 12:48 PM CDT

A 104-year-old Chicago woman is hoping to be certified as the oldest person to ever skydive after making a tandem jump Sunday and landing 13,500 feet later at a northern Illinois airport. "Age is just a number," Dorothy Hoffner told a cheering crowd moments after touching the ground Sunday at Skydive Chicago Airport in Ottawa, about 85 miles southwest of Chicago, the Chicago Tribune reports. The Guinness World Record for oldest skydiver was set in May 2022 by 103-year-old Linnea Ingegard Larsson from Sweden. But Skydive Chicago is working to have Guinness World Records certify Hoffner's jump as a record, reports WLS-TV.

Hoffner first skydived when she was 100. On Sunday, she left her walker behind just short of the Skyvan plane at the Ottawa airport and was helped up the steps to join the others waiting inside to skydive, the AP reports. "Let's go, let's go, Geronimo!" Hoffner said after she was finally seated. When she first skydived at 100 she had had to be pushed out of the aircraft. But on Sunday, tethered to a US Parachute Association-certified instructor, Hoffner insisted on leading the jump. She looked calm and confident when the plane was aloft and its aft door opened to reveal fields far below shortly before she shuffled toward the edge and leaped into the air.

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The dive lasted seven minutes, and the plane beat Hoffner to the ground after her parachute opened for a slow descent. Friends rushed in to share congratulations, while someone brought over Hoffner's red walker. She rose quickly and a reporter asked her how it felt to be back on the ground. "Wonderful," Hoffner said. "But it was wonderful up there. The whole thing was delightful, wonderful, couldn't have been better." After her jump, Hoffner's mind quickly turned to the future and other challenges. The lifelong Chicago resident, who's set to turn 105 in December, said she might take a ride in a hot-air balloon next. (More skydiving stories.)

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