90-year-old ex-president makes parachute jump on his birthday

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KENNEBUNKPORT, Maine — Former President George H.W. Bush has celebrated his 90th birthday by making a tandem parachute jump near his summer home in Maine.

The 41st president jumped out of a helicopter Thursday while harnessed to a retired member of the Army's parachute team. It was his eighth jump, and HE refused to be deterred even though he can no longer use his legs because of a form of Parkinson's.

He could be seen floating to the ground using a red, white and blue parachute. A spokesman says he landed safely and softly in Kennebunkport, out of the sight of reporters.

With the jump, Bush made good on a promise from five years ago, when he also celebrated his birthday by skydiving.

The first time Bush jumped from an airplane was when his plane was shot down in World War II over the Pacific. Since then, he has made a point to skydive on his 75th, 80th, 85th and now 90th birthdays.

The announcement was kept secret until the last minute, partly to give Bush the option of bagging it.  Spokesman Jim McGrath says the 41st president likes both a surprise and an adrenaline rush. He said the president hopes to show that seniors can remain active, even though he now uses a wheelchair.

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