Birthday Flight Ends In Fatal Leap

Stearman biplanes fly over Burlington, Iowa
He rented an airplane to celebrate his 88th birthday — and then ended his life by jumping out of it.

Authorities in California say Joseph Frost died yesterday after falling from a biplane over El Cajon.

Frost had recently been diagnosed with a brain tumor that was affecting his vision. His son says Frost jumped from the plane on purpose. He tells a newspaper (The San Diego Union-Tribune) he thinks his dad wanted "to go out in a flash of glory."

The son had helped his father charter a ride in a Stearman PT 17 biplane — similar to the ones he'd flown in World War II. The pilot says he was on a final approach to land when Frost stood up and jumped.

According to the San Diego Union-Tribune, Frost fought off the pilot to make his fatal leap. The pilot threw the plane into a steep climb to prevent the jump, but Frost leapt out about a half-mile southeast of the airport from 300 to 400 feet up.

A witness reports seeing Frost hit some power lines before landing on an apartment patio. The lines severed his body, the newspaper said, and the impact knocked out power to 4,000 residents and businesses.

"I saw him hit the power lines, heard trees breaking. I really thought it wasn't real," Cynthia Lankford, 33, told the Union-Tribune.