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Skydiver, 91, Earns Silver Wings

The sky is the limit for 91-year-old Aileen Fritsch.

On Saturday, July 2, she jumped out of a plane for the fifth time in a year, earning the Silver Wings award in skydiving.

"I like it. It is an adrenaline high," Fritsch told The Early Show co-anchor Rene Syler, "I don't smoke pot or anything. But I think I've got a zing of some kind out of it."

The first time she took the plunge was last year for her 90th birthday. After seeing former President Bush do it

, she knew she could do it, too.

Fritsch appeared in on The Early Show last June when she first jumped for her birthday. And Wednesday morning, she visited the show again, wearing her wings.

All five of Fritsch's jumps have been tandem from 13,000 feet, freefalling through the air for over 60 seconds with instructor Kerry McCauley at Sky Dive Twin Cities.

Fritsch pointed out, "Right after you leave the plane, the parachute doesn't open. You have a drop deal that goes in there. And in that space, you're going about 120, 130 miles an hour. But you're weightless. So you can turn, you can twist. You can do somersaults. You can dance."

McCauley has said he is amazed at Fritsch's determination and noted she is the calmest passenger he's ever had - dancing in the sky on the way down.

"He's the best looking and the nicest," Fritsch said about McCauley. "And another thing. He just knows exactly what to do. And we are just the right size for each other. We can do all these twists and everything because I'm not a great big body. I just go, and go, and go."

What was special about her last jump was that she got her daughter to jump as well.

"Heidi jumped with me, which was really a thrill," Fritsch said, "When we were coming down, our canopies were quite close together. It was beautiful. Nicest present in the world."

When Fritsch first approached McCauley about jumping, she had one thing in mind. She wanted her own set of jump wings. According to McCauley, when you go to airborne school and complete five successful jumps, you earn your silver jump wings from the military.

So when she completed her jumps, McCauley contacted the USPA (U.S. Parachute Association) regional conference director about awarding Fritsch her own special set of wings. The USPA Conference Director signed off on the award.

McCauley said that Fritsch's jump wings are a gold set, which are typically given to skydivers who complete 1,000 jumps and are certified by the USPA. Fritsch's wings are more ceremonial than official, but her photo will be featured in a parachuting magazine.

Besides her award, she has also earned a membership to the SOS - Skydivers Over Sixty. Being over 60 years old and having made at least one parachute jump (tandem, static line, accelerated free fall, or freefall) qualifies you to join SOS.

Fritsch has already told McCauley she plans to jump again to celebrate her 100th birthday. And she invited everybody at The Early Show to join her.

"I love people and the only thing is, as you get older, don't think that's the end," she said, "For me, it's only the beginning. And it can be for you, too."

Next for Fritsch, besides jumping, is writing a book with Jackie Mazio, a writer from the Minnesota Writer's Association.