Jumping out of a plane was something that Esther Bly, 79, of Ellington, always wanted to do, but never thought she would; until her granddaughter Amiti Maloy's 31st birthday, that is.
"She's always game for most anything," said Bly. "We've gone whitewater rafting, I've done parasailing, she's done bungee jumping; and I guess this is just something she wanted to do. I told her absolutely not, I'm too old, and that I'd go watch her. After she jumped, and I watched her land nicely, she finally said to me, 'Grandma, it would mean so much to me if you would jump with me.' That got me. So, I said OK, I will jump."
Maloy's persistence paid off, and Bly was soon suited up for take off.
Pictured is Esther Bly (left) and granddaughter Amiti Maloy (right) suited up for the jump.
"Once she committed to it she was like a little kid on Christmas," said Maloy. "From the way she sounds I think she wants to do it again. And, next time I think my mom would like to go to because they are both very adventurous."
Bly's adventurous lifestyle started at a young age and continued throughout her life. Even when she had kids, she still kept seeking thrills. Even though she is soon turning 80, her adventurous spirit continues to thrive.
"My grandma is my biggest role model," said Maloy. "When she was young she was a professional girls baseball player, she drag raced and she ran an ice cream shop, all while raising four kids. But, the one thing she said she never got to do was jump out of a plane. It was supposed to be a beautiful day on my birthday, so I figured why not see if she'd be game. She said she would only watch me at first, but she brought her sneakers, so she probably meant she really would. And, that's what I wanted for my birthday, for her to jump. It made for the perfect birthday gift."
Maloy, a resident of Morgantown, W.Va. thought it best to set a halfway point for the two in Greenville Pa. She had some friends that had given her good reviews of the skydiving site and thought it would make the perfect spot.
"When you were in the air you could see Cleveland, Erie and Pittsburgh," said Maloy. "The instructors were very responsible and professional, and they take extra precautions for the elderly."
Even though the jump was not planned, it was something Bly had been looking forward to almost her entire life.
"When I was younger I always wanted to parachute out of a plane, but it was something I was sure I would never do," said Bly. "But, it worked out fine. Jumping didn't phase me. I was most worried about breaking a leg when landing. But, landing was actually very soft, and there was nothing to be afraid of at all."
Beginner divers are required to tandem jump, which includes being strapped to an experienced instructor who handles the technical aspects so the diver can enjoy the ride. Bly's instructor had been diving for 32 years.
"The view was spectacular and it was an exhilarating experience," said Bly. "We were above the clouds at 13,500 feet and you could look down and see the land below. Once you got through the clouds you could see forever. It was the perfect day because it was beautiful, bright and sunny. But, what was really nice about it was that it was so quiet."
Another thing that really impressed Bly was the quality of the personnel.
"They were so professional," said Bly. "I never heard any bad language the entire time we were there. I thought it was a very high-class place. And, it gave me the impression that they really cared, were knowledgeable and took every safety precaution they could."
Bly wasn't too keen on going skydiving at first, but she was convinced and then pleasantly surprised by the results. She also wasn't looking forward to having to tell the story. However, her friend Ken Sorenson insisted and came to The Post-Journal to set up an interview.
"It wasn't my idea to get it in the paper, it was Ken's," said Bly. "But, I have nothing bad to say about the experience. And, Amiti and her mother think that next year we will make it a three-generation jump. I don't know; I'm not going to rule it out. But, I guess it might sound better if I can say I did it at 80 and not 79."
Being adventurous isn't Bly's only hobby. She and her husband raised a herd of Jersey Cattle that they showed locally, at the state fair and nationally. Now in her elder years, Bly focuses on keeping the yard trim and tending to her flower garden. But, she always makes time to do something out of the ordinary.
"My mother always told me that I shouldn't be afraid to be different," said Bly. "She said, anyone can be like anybody else, dare to be different."