Kentucky WWII Veteran Discovers a Love for Skydiving in His Late 90s
Age is just a number and the sky is the limit are two exceptionally common sayings that we have all heard at some point in our lives. However, they ring true in a very uncommon way for a 98-year-old Louisville, Kentucky, native that served in World War II.
Celebrating His 98th Birthday In The Clouds
Lee Smith won't settle for blowing out candles on a birthday cake this year. Instead, he is prepping for his second skydive. The first time was just two years ago at age 96.
“It’s not a natural thing to do," Smith said. "You have to be a whacko to do it.”
His Passion for Aviation Came Early
Smith's passion for aviation began at an early age due to the influence of his parents. He was just eight years old when he had his first experience with flying in the open cockpit of a plane. Mr. Smith's father had a career around flying contraptions and his mother was a passionate traveler. Therefore it didn't require much thought when he enlisted, which chapter of the military he would choose the U.S Army Air Corps.
One of the things Smith trained for while in the armed forces was to jump from a plane, but he never had the opportunity to put that training into action.
"I always had this desire, I'd like to know how it is," he said.
Passion Turned into Desire
It was that desire that ended up being the driving force behind his dare-devil-style adventures. Plans never came to fruition in his younger years, which is what has led him to make up for the lost time in his later years. Once the bug bit him, one jump just wasn't enough.
"I did it and I'm glad I did it, now I'm going to do it one more time just so it wasn't a one-time shot," Smith said.
A Family Affair
Lee Smith is set to travel out west to Arizona on March 4th to leap into his 98th year of life. This time around his grandson, 51-year-old Timothy Smith will be there to join in on the adventure.
"I wanted to jump in on this one, or jump out," Timothy Smith said. "Who goes skydiving with their grandfather?"
"He decided, if Grandpa can do it, he can do it, so he's going to (go) with me," Lee Smith said.
Is Mr. Smith Scared to Jump?
In regards to fear, Smith had some words to say about his bravery for his second upcoming skydive.
"I don’t have nerves for that anymore, I have nerves about getting out on Shelbyville Road during traffic, but I don’t have nerves jumping out of airplanes," Lee Smith said.
A Final Note
Living to age 98 is a blessing and an amazing milestone having lived through and been a part of history. I would like to thank Mr. Smith for his service during WWII and wish him a very happy birthday.