Grandma’s 87th birthday present: Skydiving

  • Janis Lefebvre, 87, of Athol, gives a thumbs up with Jumptown instructor Dan Aukstikalis as she boards the plane to go skydiving for the first time in Orange, Sunday, June 19. Recorder Staff/Matt Burkhartt

  • Janis Lefebre, 87, of Athol, and Jumptown skydiving instructor, Dan Aukstikalnis glide to the ground in Orange Sunday, June 19. Recorder Staff/Matt Burkhartt

  • Jump town skydiving instructor, Dan Aukstiklanis, gives Janis Lefebre some last minute instructions before boarding a plane to go skydiving together, Sunday, June 19. Recorder Staff/Matt Burkhartt

  • Family of Janis Lefebre, 87, of Athol, applaud after she successfully skydived for the first time at Jumptown skydiving in Orange Sunday, June 19. Recorder Staff/Matt Burkhartt

  • Janis Lefebvre, 87, of Athol, walks with Jumptown skydiving instructor Dan Aukstiklanis back to the Jumptown spectator area after skydiving together Sunday, June 19. Recorder Staff/Matt Burkhartt

  • Mark Lefebre and his sister Robbin Terault, react as they watch a video of their mother Janis Lefebre, 87, of Athol, skydiving at Jumptown in Orange, Sunday, June 19. Recorder Staff/Matt Burkhartt

  • Janis Lefebvre, 87, of Athol, poses for photographs with Jumptown skydiving instructor Dan Aukstiklanis after skydiving together Sunday, June 19. Recorder Staff/Matt Burkhartt

  • Athol resident 87-year-old Janis Lefebre skydives in Orange on Sunday morning. Jump Town—Contributed by Jump Town

  • The children of Janis Lefebre, 87, of Athol, Robbin Terault, Lori Craig, and Mark Lefebre, watch as she parachutes down to the ground with Jumptown skydiving instructor Dan Aukstiklanis Sunday, June 19. Recorder Staff/Matt Burkhartt

  • The plane carrying Janis Lefebre, 87, of Athol, takes off from Jumptown skydiving in Orange, Sunday, June 19. Recorder Staff/Matt Burkhartt

  • Above, Estelle Lefebre, 2½, reaches out to her grandmother, Janis Lefebre, 87, of Athol, before she skydives for the first time at Jumptown in Orange, Sunday. Below, The children of Janis Lefebre, 87, Robbin Terault, Lori Craig and Mark Lefebre, watch as she parachutes down to the ground. Recorder Staff photos/Matt Burkhartt

  • Janis Lefebre, 87, of Athol, and Jumptown skydiving instructor, Dan Aukstikalnis glide to the ground in Orange Sunday, June 19. Recorder Staff/Matt Burkhartt

  • Athol resident 87-year-old Janis Lefebre skydives in Orange on Sunday morning. contributed photo/Jump Town

Recorder Staff
Published: 6/19/2016 10:29:08 PM

ORANGE — Eighty-seven-year-old Janis Lefebre is as calm as ever before boarding a plane to skydive on Sunday morning.

“It’s just fun watching everyone be nervous for me,” she said moments before traveling 13,500 feet in the sky.

A crowd of family and friends cheered and whistled as she walked up the steps of the aircraft, flashing them a smile and giving them a wave before disappearing into the plane with her instructor.

The family took turns squinting up at the sky, waiting to spot the red and white-striped parachute that would carry their mother and grandmother to the ground. All the while, those on the ground seemed more nervous than LeFebre did.

“She’s saying Hail Marys up there, you know it,” said her daughter Robbin Terault of Montague. “She will not go this far and not jump.”

As the plane circled once and the sky began to fill with floating skydivers, the family finally spotted her.

After freefalling for about a minute, the parachute was released.

The 135-pound woman floated, strapped to her instructor Dan Aukstikalnis, to the earth.

As she came closer to the ground, she wiggled her feet at her family and they cheered in response. “Way to go, ma” said her son Mark Lefebre, as she landed gently on the ground.

“I have the coolest grandma, ever,” said her grandson 19-year-old Evan Terault.

Her kids bought her the skydiving ticket from the Jumptown skydiving center for $235 for her 87th birthday when they learned that jumping out of a plane was on her bucket list.

Lefebre said that skydiving is something she has always wanted to do. The experience, she said, did live up to her expectations. The cool air she found refreshing. The impact when jumping from the plane almost took her breath away.

“For my first try, it was perfect,” she said minutes after landing. “It’s almost like you want to go up again and see the sights. I wouldn’t hesitate to do it again.”

The family can’t help but wonder what’s next for Lefebre. They think, maybe, running with the bulls in Spain or riding in a racecar at NASCAR.

“Oh my God, she wears us out. At 87 she is unbelievable,” said her daughter Lori Craig, who grew up in Athol.

You can reach Lisa Spear at lspear@recorder.com

or 413-772-0261, ext. 280




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