PLYMOUTH — Longtime Marshall County resident and former Argos Jr./Sr. High School home economics teacher Carol Schmidlapp celebrated her 80th birthday Tuesday among family and friends — while also jumping out of an airplane flying at 10,000 feet.
“It’s on my bucket list,” explained Schmidlapp at Plymouth Sky Sports, as staff helped her into a harness and parachute. “I went up on a power parachute for my 75th birthday, so I thought the next thing is to go up and get pushed out of an airplane.”
Schmidlapp’s skydiving experience was purchased for her by her son, Plymouth resident Dean Schmidlapp, from the Shop with a Cop auction last winter.
“She said she wanted to skydive for her 80th birthday, so I bid on it with her in mind,” said Dean Schmidlapp.
Carol decided to celebrate her birthday — which is actually September 13 — this week, while her extended family is in the area for a family reunion. Her son Dean was joined by her daughters Debbie Wiens, of Washington, and Alane Rozelle, of Michigan and their families for the event Tuesday.
Wiens said that her mother is fairly adventurous, and had done quite a bit of traveling in her lifetime, including trips to Europe, Central America, and the Appalachian Trail.
A sizable group had gathered by the time Carol climbed into the small plane with a tandem instructor and a videographer. The group waiting anxiously for the 20 minutes it took for the plane to climb to the perfect height. They burst into cheers as a tiny colorful speck that was Carol and Plymouth Sky Sports instructor Steve Verner became visible, then slowly floated back to earth.
When asked if she would jump again, Carol said, “Absolutely — give me another free ticket, and I’ll go! When (the instructor) opened the door of the place and it (slammed open), I looked out and thought, ‘I don’t think so.’ But it was fun, it was really nice.”
Carol said her favorite part of the experience was the few seconds of free falling before the parachute was opened.
“I wish that part would have lasted longer!” exclaimed Carol.