Robert Allman skydives for the first time with tandem instructor, Dan Roberts, from Skydive Tennessee, on Oct. 21.(Photo: Submitted Photo/Skydive Tennesse)
TULLAHOMA, Tenn. — Just one day after turning 100 years old, Robert Allman of Murfreesboro, Tenn., crossed one more thing off his bucket list.
He parachuted for the first time in his life.
“It wasn’t scary,” said Allman, who had more than two dozen friends and family members show up at the Tullahoma Municipal Airport to watch him make the jump. “Nothing you could do. If you’re going to jump out, you’re going to fall, live or die.”
After dense clouds gave way to October’s bright blue skies on Friday, Allman suited up for a tandem jump with instructor Dan Robertson. It was those skies that fascinated Allman during his jump.
“It’s so pretty. Look up here at the sky … looks like somebody painted it,” Allman said after he completed the jump.
Parachuting is something he’d wanted to do for nearly 20 years.
“Ever since I saw (President George) Bush jump, I thought, ‘If he could do it, I could do better,’” said Allman, who lost his wife, Mary, in 2006 after 72 years of marriage.
It wasn’t until last year that he got serious about making the jump.
“(We thought) if he wants to do it, let’s do it. It’s a great thing to look forward to,” said Judy Nixon, Allman’s daughter who came from Walnut Creek, Calif., to be with her father for his high-flying feat. “I’m so happy he can do this.”
Nixon's two sons and their families also made the trip to Middle Tennessee for the jump. Two of Allman's great-grandsons, Alex and Travis Nixon, made the jump with him, too.
Although parachuting is probably the most daredevil thing Allman has done, he's been able to cross a few items off his bucket list. He’s traveled to Japan and gone twice to Alaska, where he was able to take a helicopter ride and land on a glacier. He’s driven a car really fast, although “not faster than 100.”
Doing something so “crazy,” he joked, as jumping out of an airplane isn’t something he’d normally do. But he also hasn’t been one to shy away from heights, either.
“He’s an old farmer and if we’d let him, he’d be on top of the roof still doing stuff … even though he has chronic back pain and leg pain,” Nixon said.
That chronic pain and stiffness made getting on the airplane the hardest part of his adventure, he joked.
“I got in and all of a sudden I was on all fours,” Allman said.
Easier than climbing onto the airplane was jumping out, he said, although admittedly “it was kindly awkward … but got a little better” as he got closer to the ground.
“The only time it got breathtaking was after you got out. My mouth flew open, I guess,” he said, laughing.
But no, he didn’t scream.
“Who was going to answer me?” he said, smiling.
Now that he’s parachuted, Allman still has a couple of bucket list items to check off.
“I’d love to fly a big airplane. And I’ve always wanted to own a helicopter,” Allman said.
He’s not sure if he’ll ever jump again.
“Who knows? He may be back here at 101,” Nixon said.
Allman would, however, recommend parachuting to everyone, regardless of age.
“Save up enough money … jump … and have a good time,” Allman said.
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