'The Five': What Was It Like to Parachute With Former President Bush?
We saw an incredible moment yesterday as former President George H.W. Bush marked his 90th birthday by parachuting out of a helicopter. Though he can no longer use his legs, the 41st president vowed five years ago that he would skydive on his 90th birthday.
The first time Bush jumped from an airplane was when his plane was shot down in World War II over the Pacific. Later, he decided to jump from a plane of his own accord and marked his 75th, 80th and 85th birthdays by skydiving.
Bush parachuted from an aircraft for the eighth time near the family's summer home in Kennebunkport, Maine, and he was joined by Sgt. First Class Mike Elliott, a retired member of the Army's parachute team, the Golden Knights.
The Five talked to Elliott, who was actually making his third tandem jump with the former president. He explained that he worked with a few different companies to specially modify Bush's harness and kept an oxygen tank with them throughout the flight and jump.
Elliott was asked how a person can jump from a plane if they can't use their legs.
"Your tandem instructor has to pretty much take the brunt of the landing. We talked about it. We knew there was risk. We did as much we could to mitigate and to make sure that regardless of what happened it was safe and enjoyable for him," said Elliott, saying he gets a little nervous every time he jumps from a plane.
Elliott then described the mood of the president before the jump.
"He was really motivated and just talking about the jump. He had this great smile on his face. 43 came up and talked to him. Mrs. Bush came and gave him a big kiss. He was just celebrating his birthday. He has continued to live. He said, you know, just because he’s 90 doesn’t mean you have to stand in a corner. Continue to live and enjoy yourself."
And yes, President Bush did wear his trademark lucky socks.
Watch the full interview, including some other interesting questions: like Bob asking Elliott if his chute ever failed during a jump and Greg asking how Elliott handles someone who, like him, would "soil themselves" during a jump.
Also, tune in tonight at 10p ET for a special tribute to the 41st president on A Bush Family Album.