Many men in their late 70s are content to retire and take it easy: play a leisurely game of golf, go fishing, sit on the front porch in a rocking chair.
Not so for Paul S. Crowl, 77, of Finksburg. Last March, he broke with the stereotype and went skydiving.
“I’ve been saying I wanted to do it since I turned 70,” he said. And finally, this year, during his annual winter trip to Florida, he had the opportunity.
In short order, Paul signed up at Skydive De Land, Inc. in De Land, Florida, which is about 30 miles from Orlando; met ex-paratrooper Bob Holler, his instructor; took about 20 minutes Ô worth of ground school; donned a bright red jump suit, and climbed into a plane. It was March 7, 2005, a clear afternoon. At two and a half miles up, Paul and Bob, now harnessed in tandem, jumped out. (Neither shouted anything.) They landed safely a few minutes later.
“It was exhilarating,” said Paul. A senior journeyman pressman at the Baltimore Sun for 33 years, he retired in 1990, but felt restless. He did the Bay Bridge walk for four years, visited his four daughters, four grandchildren, and two great grandchildren, and generally kept in shape by working around his home. And at 5 foot 9 inches and 170 pounds with a full head of white hair, he looks pretty sturdy.
But he thought he’d like to skydive. It just seemed like something he ought to do before he turned 80, which is the age limit for aspiring sky divers. He says his wife, Sarah, thought he was nuts, but he persisted.
“Waiting to jump was the scariest,” he said. “When I did jump, I was only a little nervous.” The video of his jump testifies otherwise. Bob Holler tried to get Paul to take his hands off the parachute shoulder harness and wave to the skydiving photographer. He wouldn’t. But by the time he landed, he was calm enough to tuck into a steak for supper. He is, as he says, “a steak and potatoes man.”
“My next goal is to do it again before I’m 80,” he said. No, that’s not right. I want to get a tattoo. My wife’s name on my arm.” S.D.K.