Audrey goes airborne: Local 88-year-old fulfills dream of skydiving

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By Kacie Goode

Audrey Simek has always wanted to go skydiving but never found the time or money to make it happen — until now. This weekend, the 88-year-old finally fulfilled her wish, making it back to the ground safe and with a big grin on her face.


“It was fantastic!” she told the camera shortly after she and skydiving instructor Jim Wade made the landing at Addington Field in Elizabethtown on Saturday.

The activity was a gift to herself celebrating her 88th birthday, spurred by the encouragement from Dr. Mark Duber, a local orthopedic surgeon and “adrenaline junkie” with around 1,000 jumps under his belt. Simek had read about Duber’s adventure-seeking habits and met him after injuring her hand, which is when they got to talking about skydiving and her desire to try it.

“He’s encouraged me and he doesn’t treat me like an age,” Simek said of Duber.

For the past several months, the two have talked about making the jump happen, and on Saturday, they showed up at Skydive Kentucky to see those plans come to fruition.

While jumping from a plane thousands of feet in the air would be scary for most, Simek showed no sign of wavering while putting on her jumpsuit Saturday morning.

“I’m not nervous at all,” she said, despite her fear of heights. “I know when I go to look out the plane, my knees will be wobbly. … I know that’s going to happen, but it’s not going to stop me.”

Before the jump, Simek went through a brief training session on what to expect, when to deploy the parachute and how to land, joining a small group of other newcomers and being sure to ask plenty of questions.

“All of my family have been trying to talk me out of it,” Simek said with a laugh as she looked over at her extended family that gathered together Saturday to wish her well.

Simek did a tandem jump with an instructor, and Duber followed behind doing a solo jump in a wingsuit. While Duber is a veteran skydiver, he’s accompanied many friends on their first experiences and was excited to do the same for Audrey.

“It’s cool to go up with them, see their reactions,” he said. “I’ve always tried to bring skydiving to my friends and family, just because I love it so much. I think it is an amazing experience. It’s a great overall life experience people can have, whether you do it once or a thousand times.”