Text size:

  • Small
  • Normal
  • Large
Dick Corbit, 86, prepares to land after jumping out of a plane 4000m above Dubai to celebrate his birthday.
Dick Corbit, 86, prepares to land after jumping out of a plane 4000m above Dubai to celebrate his birthday.

Oldest skydiver in town: American celebrates birthday with free-fall over Dubai

Richard 'Dick' Corbit, an 86-year-old American grandfather, becomes the oldest person to free-fall over the Palm Jumeirah with SkyDive Dubai.

DUBAI // Leaping out of an airplane at 4,000?metres is hardly how most people expect to celebrate their 86th birthday.

But that is exactly what Richard “Dick” Corbit, an American grandfather of six and father of four, did today, becoming the oldest person to free-fall over the Palm Jumeirah with SkyDive Dubai.

Thirteen years older than the centre’s previous oldest skydiver, who was 73, Mr Corbit, a Second World War US Navy veteran and a retired engineer, lives in Blanchard, Idaho and was on holiday visiting his daughter Lisa, a teacher in Ras Al Khaimah.

According to his wife Ella, “it was something he’s talked about for years, he wanted to do a skydive for his 80th birthday in Hawaii, but couldn’t because the weather was too bad.”

Mr Corbit is no stranger to extreme sports and although this was his first skydive, he has previously tried his hand at zip-lining in Costa Rica, and is a regular waterskier.

Because of his advanced years, Mr Corbit had to pass a thorough medical prior to the tandem jump. Then, after a safety briefing, he was kitted out with the necessary gear.

Before the jump, he showed no trace of nerves. His wife, though, admitted she was slightly worried for his safety.

He said that from his research on the internet, the centre in Dubai was the ideal place to fulfil his dream and that it seemed “pretty safe”.

Two of his daughters, Lisa and Lynn, accompanied him on the jump, and said their dad was “absolutely fearless”. He noted, wryly, that “you have to be when you have four daughters”.

Spirits were high as he approached the airplane, and Mrs Corbit joked that “he didn’t even say goodbye”.

The skydive itself went without a hitch and with a smile on his face and a triumphant shout, Mr Corbit landed safely and smoothly. “Let’s do it again, it was amazing,” he said.

He said the views over the city were incredible, adding that “you could see absolutely everything”.

Lynn revealed that his only concern upon landing was not for his physical well-being, but if his shorts were green from skidding on the grass.

After coming back to earth he was met by staff and other jumpers at the SkyDive Dubai centre with a rendition of “Happy Birthday” and a cake.

Skydive Dubai’s general manager, Alan Gayton, said the company applied the same safety rules as for all its first-time jumpers, with safety as the top priority.

“He’s the oldest person we’ve had, but skydiving, when done properly, is safe for anyone over the age of 18, as long as they’ve passed the health check.” Had there been any incident at the centre, all of the staff are fully trained in first aid. The company has no recorded injuries in any of its tandem skydives.

So what is next for the thrill-seeking senior citizen? He says he wants to drive a racing car – of course.


Back to the top

More articles

Editor's Picks

 An Egyptian Orthodox Christian priest give communion during the Palm Sunday service inCairo, Egypt. Mohamed El-Shahed / AFP

Region in focus - April 18, 2014

The best images of the last seven days from around the Gulf and across the Middle East.

 Above, the private pool of Ocean Heights' five-bedroom penthouse flat. Courtesy Christie’s International Real Estate

In pictures: Penthouse flat is height of Dubai luxury living

A five-bedroom penthouse in Ocean Heights in Dubai Marina is on sale for Dh25 million and comes with a private pool and an unparalleled view of Dubai.

Video: Local reactions to a national fishing ban

A federal fishing ban has been imposed by the UAE federal government, but local authorities are taking diiferent approaches to implementing the ban. Two fishermen tell two very different sides of the story. Produced by Paul O'Driscoll

 Hamburg players leave the field after the match against Borussia Moenchengladbach on March 30, 2014. AFP

Hamburg the dinosaur’s time may be up in Bundesliga

Ever-present for 51 years in the German top-flight, Hamburg face the prospect of relegation, writes Ian Hawkey.

 The new Bentley GT Speed convertible on display at a press event of the New York International Auto Show. Jason Szenes / EPA

In pictures: Hot cars at New York International Auto Show

With more than 1 million visitors annually, the New York International Auto Show is one of the most important shows for the US car industry. Here are some of the vehicles to be shown in this year’s edition.

 The cast of Fast & Furious 7, including Michelle Rodriguez and Vin Diesel, centre, on set at Emirates Palace in Abu Dhabi. Jeffrey E Biteng / The National

Fast & Furious 7 filming in full swing at Emirates Palace

Filming for Fast & Furious 7 has started and we have the first photos of the cast and crew on set at Emirates Palace hotel this morning. Visitors staying at Emirates Palace say they have been kept away from certain areas in the grounds.


To add your event to The National listings, click here

Get the most from The National