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His lifelong dream of skydiving finally came true at 96-years-old: “I felt the wind hit my face and I jumped!”

Falling felt magical. Like a bullet, the speed enveloped my entire body. At first, I only saw white as we passed through clouds, then the intense blue sky opened as I enjoyed 30 unforgettable seconds of freefalling. A deep sense of peace settled in, and I felt more alive than ever before.

  • 3 weeks ago
  • February 5, 2024
6 min read
journalist’s notes
interview subject
José “Coco” Giusti, a spirited 96-year-old, recently experienced skydiving in Alta Gracia, accompanied by his grandson Lucas Giusti. Renowned as the oldest hairdresser in Villa María, Coco lived a versatile live. He enjoyed everything from carpentry to playing the bandoneon. Since his wife passed away seven years ago, Coco’s grandson Lucas has become his traveling companion, encouraging to do all the things he dreamed of.
background information
Engaging in travel offers several health benefits for older individuals. Beyond the physical advantages gained through moderate exercise, the act of exploring new places enhances mental well-being. The unfamiliar surroundings capture attention, breaking routines and reducing anxiety, depression, loneliness, and social isolation. Travel becomes a journey of self-discovery, providing fresh perspectives on one’s identity and fostering gratitude for the familiar. Ultimately, the accumulation of new and positive memories during travel contributes to an increased sense of vitality and happiness for older individuals. For further insights into the advantages of traveling in older age, visit this link.

CORDOBA, Argentina — In 2023, my grandson Lucas helped me fulfill two lifelong dreams: visiting El Calafate in Patagonia and skydiving at 96 years old. On that special day, when the doors of the airplane opened and I felt the wind on my face, it was magical.

At my age, I have no plans of stopping. While nostalgia sometimes gets the better of me, I enjoy a happy life, full of unique experiences. From my small hometown in Argentina, armed with good health and a bulletproof will, I look forward to what life has in store next for Lucas and I.

Read more travel and adventure stories at Orato World Media.

My wife and I dreamed of Calafate, but she passed before we got there

While my formal education ended in primary school, life taught me many important lessons. A hard worker, I wore many hats, from selling fruits and vegetables to laying bricks. For 61 years, I styled hair and for a time, I played the bandoneon. [A bandoneon looks like an accordion but does not include the piano-like keyboard.]

Eventually, I sold that bandoneon, along with a small motorcycle, and purchased a house for my new bride. I still live in that house today. Weekends took a thrilling turn when one of my clients who owned a small airplane invited my wife and I for a ride.

My love affair with flying began, and every time I gazed out of the tiny window of the airplane, I dreamed of leaping into the open sky. I imagined the wind on my face and body as I descended like a feather.

Years passed and I tucked that dream away, never telling anyone, not even my wife. Rosita and I began taking road trips around the country in our very small car, enjoying the great outdoors and the freedom we felt traveling. Not only was she my companion in life, but also my copilot as we weaved through our routes.

After being married for 65 years, Rosita and I had one remaining destination on our wish list. We wanted to travel to Calafate in Patagonia. For one reason or another, we never made it and then, seven years ago, Rosita died. While I lost my partner forever, the adventures she and I shared felt like a treasure inside my heart.

My grandson Lucas became my new traveling companion

After Rosita passed, my grandson Lucas began visiting me more often. We shared stories and enjoyed activities together, but our main interest was in taking trips through the mountains of Córdoba. Somewhere along the way, as Lucas drove his car, I confided in him about Rosita’s and my dream to visit Calafate.

Lucas pressed the brakes and abruptly stopped the car. “Let’s go,” he asserted. A big smile covered my face and filled me with love. I felt an energy surge through my body, and I gave Lucas an enthusiastic yes. He started the car back up and as we drove down the road, my mind filled with musings of Calafate, my next destination, looming on the horizon.

It took a few months for Lucas and I to organize everything and our meetings filled with pure emotion. When the day finally arrived, it marked the first time I ever entered a big airport or boarded a commercial airplane; we’d always flown in my client’s little private plane.

When I sat down in my seat, memories flooded my mind of Rosita and I. Tears rolled down my cheeks as I gazed out of the window. Little by little, I felt the airplane gain speed and rise up into the air. With total amazement, I felt like a star in a movie.

As Lucas and I toured the magical landscape of Calafate in Patagonia – with its turquoise waters, towering glaciers, and green valleys – it felt like a once-in-a-lifetime trip. Then, on the airplane ride home, something extraordinary happened. As I once again gazed out the window, Lucas looked at me and said, “Grandpa, would you like to skydive with me sometime?”

I stared at him intently in disbelief. He had no idea about my lifelong dream to leap out of an airplane. I never told anyone. “That’s what you are missing, right,” he asked. Lucas guessed correctly and as I looked back at him, I simply answered, “I think so!” Right there on the plane, we burst into uncontrollable laughter.

I leaped out of an airplane at 96 years old

Months after our talk on the way home from Calafate, Lucas invited me on a walk through the mountains. “We are going to pass through Alta Gracia,” he told me – a town near where I lived. “I want to go skydiving,” he said. “Will you come with me?” Lucas told me I could not refuse because he had already bought the tickets, so we went.

At the Alta Gracia Aeroclub, pictures covered the wall. One showcased a man who went skydiving there at 93 years old – setting a record for the facility. As I looked at the article, I could see Lucas’ face reflecting back at me through the glass.

When I turned and looked at him, Lucas had tears in his eyes. “Grandpa, if you jump out of a plane at 96 years old, you will break the record,” he exclaimed. After preparing us, performing some tests, and giving instruction, the staff put on my equipment. I climbed into the airplane and felt the slow ascent begin.

As we reached 3,000 meters of altitude, the noise seemed deafening. The instructor tapped me three times on the back and we made eye contact. I gave him a thumbs up and the airplane door opened. I felt the wind hit my face and I jumped!

Falling felt magical. Like a bullet, the speed enveloped my entire body. At first, I only saw white as we passed through clouds, then the intense blue sky opened as I enjoyed 30 unforgettable seconds of freefalling. A deep sense of peace settled in, and I felt more alive than ever before.

The parachute opened with a strong tug, and I saw the green hills and the sprawling landscape. With the world at my feet, everything looked so small. When I reached the ground, people cheered with their arms raised. I could barely believe it.

Lucas ran to me, and we hugged. As we cried, I finally shared my secret confession with my grandson: that I had always wanted to jump from a plane. Every day, I give thanks for my family, and I look forward to my next adventure with Lucas.

All images courtesy of Lucas Giusti.

Translation Disclaimer

Translations provided by Orato World Media are intended to result in the end translated document being understandable in the end language. Although every effort is made to ensure our translations are accurate we cannot guarantee the translation will be without errors.

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