94th birthday marked with skydive

Posted: Tuesday, July 06, 2004

SNOHOMISH, Wash. (AP) Once was not enough for Steven Eastman. After leaping out of an airplane with a parachute on his 94th birthday, he was ready to go skydiving again.

Clad in polyester pants and wingtip shoes, sporting a beret and braided beard, the retired Boeing Co. worker from Renton realized a five-year dream when he took the plunge Sunday to the delight and relief of his watching children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

''I did it!'' Eastman said. ''I want to do it again.''

Strapped to a skydiving instructor, Eastman jumped out of the plane 12,000 feet over Harvey Field, spent a minute in free fall, then popped the chute and spent five minutes drifting to the ground.

Upon landing he wobbled to his feet as a relative handed him his bald eagle-handled cane.

''That was wonderful,'' he said. ''I think I should've done it sooner. ... OK, let's have some champagne.''

Making similar tandem jumps with him were his son, Harold ''Hal'' Eastman of La Jolla, Calif., and a granddaughter, Julie Pech of Denver. Her 9-year-old daughter Brittany also wanted to go but was legally barred because she is under 18.

Nearly 60 members of Eastman's family were in attendance.

Before boarding the plane, the family patriarch said, ''I've always heard from people who've done it that they see a new vision of the Earth. It can change your life. I decided I better do it now because I might not be around much longer.''

He's the second-oldest person to skydive at Harvey Field. The oldest was a 98-year-old Snohomish man.

''Am I a daredevil?'' said Eastman, who wears a heart pacemaker. ''Nowadays it's a daredevil thing just to live every day.''

Information from: King County Journal, http://www.eastsidejournal.com

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