Elyce Metzner missed her annual trip to Skydive Arizona outside Tucson this year, due to travel restrictions from COVID-19. Now she’ll have to wait until she’s 85 years old to try again.
That’ll be next year.
Metzner, who splits time between Glencoe and a retirement community in Tucson, made her first jump to celebrate her 75th birthday at a facility on the border of Illinois and Wisconsin. After one more jump there, she’s been making her annual jump in Tucson ever since.
“I always go tandem with the same person in Tucson, the same man,” Metzner says. “I always joke with him that he’s married and has two kids and that he doesn’t want anything to happen to himself any more than me.”
Metzner has always enjoyed the outdoors. In the past, she loved horseback riding and her and her husband were avid skiers before giving it up a few years ago when they no longer felt it was a good idea. She finds her adventure now by jumping out of airplanes.
“I’m not afraid of heights,” she says. “I’ve taken my grandkids to the top of the Willis Tower where they have the glass and you can lean forward and look down. I’m not afraid of that sort of thing.”
It just took one jump for her to get hooked.
“The initial jump, when you jump right out of the open door, you feel your blood rushing,” Metzner says. “And then once the shoot opens, you’re smooth sailing in the sky. You look right at the mountains and the land and it’s always sunny and the weather is beautiful. It’s so peaceful.”
While the idea of skydiving is terrifying for most, Metzner has no fear at all of a mishap. She mostly just worries about her replaced hip.
“I never worry about the chute not opening,” she says. “I only worry about landing with my straight legs in front of me, not curled, so that I don’t hurt my hip.”
Metzner has become something of an ambassador for the sport, recruiting friends to make the 45-minute drive to the jump facility outside Tucson to join her.
Metzner’s tandem partner, Wes Moraes, an instructor and videographer for Skydive Arizona, said skydiving is actually a thing among people getting up there in years.
“We have quite a few people between 80 and 95 who are interested in jumping,” Moraes says. “It’s people who always thought about doing it but never had the chance. Kind of a bucket list thing.”
Moraes says staff at Skydive Arizona are always happy to see Metzner walk through the door for one of her jumps.
“When she did her first jump with me it was funny because she asked me if I was married and if I had kids,” Moraes says. “She said, ‘If you have a family, you don’t want to die’.”
Moraes says Metzner is a good jumping partner because she stays calm and enjoys the experience.
“She’s just fantastic every time. She’s always super relaxed and she enjoys it,” he says. “She always talks about the peaceful experience of floating.”
For now, Metzner will need to wait it out until her next jump next April. She’s looking forward to it.
“I’ve got a wonderful son who was born on Friday the 13th so I’m lucky,” she says.