101-year-old ‘daredevil’ sets new skydiving record

(CNN) — A 101-year-old man from southwest England has become the world’s oldest tandem skydiver.

Bryson William ‘Verdun’ Hayes, known as Verdun, completed the record-breaking jump Sunday. He skydived for the very first time a year ago to celebrate his 100th birthday.

“Last year’s skydive was an amazing experience,” he said in a press statement. “I must have got a bit of a taste for it, because it just made me want to do it again.”
And he seemed to enjoy this year’s dive just as much. Asked how he felt on landing, he said, “oh, absolutely over the moon.”

The previous record was held by Canadian Armand Gendreau, who skydived from 10,000 feet in June 2013 aged 101 and three days.

Hayes, who jumped from 15,000 feet, added 34 days to that record. Eight members of his family jumped with him, including his son Bryan, grandson Roger and great-grandsons Joe and Stanley.

“He’d wanted to do it for many years and his wife wouldn’t let him,” Ian Honnor, Hayes’ grandson-in-law who also took part in the skydive, told CNN. “He would class himself as a bit of a daredevil,” he said. “He did a gliding session when he was 90, but he’s never done anything of this nature.”

Hayes was raising money for The Royal British Legion, a UK charity that supports members of the armed forces, veterans and their families. He has raised over £2,400 ($3,100) so far.

It’s a cause that has great personal significance for Hayes, who is named after a famous World War I battle. His father, fighting with the British troops in France, wrote home to his pregnant wife asking her to name their child after the Battle of Verdun, if it was a boy.

Hayes later served in World War II as a Lance Corporal and was part of the D-Day campaign, which saw the Allied forces successfully begin the liberation of Nazi-occupied Europe.

Honnor is fairly sure that this won’t be the last of Hayes’ aerial feats.

“It wouldn’t surprise me if he does it again in a year’s time,” he said. “And he’s also talking about wing walking. So I’ll now be looking into that to see if it’s medically possible.”

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