To Fly is to Live: Sun City West resident celebrates 90th birthday by skydiving

Ninety-year-old Sun City West resident Marg Burg, middle left, decided she wanted to skydive to celebrate her birthday. (The Heritage Tradition/Submitted)

By Joe McHugh

The thought of getting into a plane and jumping out into a freefall can evoke mixed reactions.

But 90-year-old Sun City West resident Marg Burg wanted nothing more than to experience the thrill of flight for her 90th birthday, so she did just that on July 20.

“When it comes to birthdays, this one stands way up on the top,” Burg says after her dive.

“Nothing will ever reach it. It was great.”

Surrounded by her family and friends, Burg got in a plane at Buckeye Municipal Airport with her tandem skydiving guide, Collin Lyons, and climbed to 14,000 feet.

“It felt like I was a bird,” Burg says of the experience. “It was exciting, and to see everything from up there was wonderful.”

Burg says she originally got the idea from George H. W. Bush’s 90th birthday, because he celebrated his big day by skydiving as well.

Burg had been excited for this day to come for years, so she couldn’t keep her birthday idea a secret. The word started spreading throughout Sun City West that one of their own was going to participate in this daredevilry.

“Marg is usually the person that is playing the piano,” says Anne Hamner, who is Burg’s caretaker. “So, this is a real surprise that she was willing to do something so adventurous.”

Although not her whole family could make the July 20 date to watch the spectacle, four generations of her family were in attendance — her daughter Brenda Omahen, granddaughter Jeanette Mosier and great granddaughter Abrielle Mosier. Together, they all watched as “Mom,” “Grammie” and “GG” lived her dream.

In order to achieve that dream, though, Burg needed the right person operating the parachute to ensure she had a safe and fun experience.

“We do this every day,” says Lyons, who has been a skydiving instructor for eight years.

“So, repetition, repetition, repetition. We do this all the time, somewhere over 2,000 jumps. She’s going to be wearing a harness where she’s going to be strapped in the chest, belly and legs tied on the back. I’m going to be wearing a tandem rig as a main pursuit and reserve parachute.”

Lyons was just as excited to be the one taking Burg down from the sky.

“That’s why it’s just so great to share with someone at that age, because they haven’t experienced that at all their whole life, and what a better time than right now?” he says.

Burg was just happy to be with the people she loved, taking on something she never imagined doing. The experience is one she says she will remember and will make for a story to tell all of her friends back at Sun City West.

“It was just that feeling of freedom,” Burg says. “Seeing the Earth from a different viewpoint. I know it isn’t that high, but probably I’ll never get to a spaceship.”