OCEANSIDE, Calif. — An Oceanside Air Force Veteran spent his 90th birthday flying through the air at 130 miles per hour. In this Zevely Zone, I met the skydiving senior at his Oceanside home.
Mike Caliguiri is a real go-getter. "I could have focused on a man who played golf in all 50 states, but instead we dove into another accomplishment: Skydiving! I guess the adrenaline flows and you just do it," said Mike Caliguiri who went skydiving on his 90th birthday.
Mike served his country for 26 years. "I joined the Air Force 72 years ago," said Mike. Danger must be Mike's middle name because for fun he likes to jump out of planes. "The door opens and it's freezing cold up there," said Mike.
The Vietnam veteran says jumping from 13,000 feet isn't just a family affair, it's a family tradition. "We did it for my 75th birthday, we did it for my 80th birthday and this time we had 11 immediate family members jumping. 11 of us," said Mike who was sitting next to his wing woman Geri Cooper. "He's a sweetheart," said Geri who organized his special day. I asked her if she jumped. "Are you crazy? Would you do it?" she asked me.
I told Geri I promised my wife I'd never jump out of a perfectly good plane. Mike never made that promise and neither did his son who also goes by the name Mike.
He told me his father jumps at the chance to do anything. "It's a great philosophy to live by, it's kept him going all of these years," said Mike. "If he had an opportunity to race Indy cars, he would do that."
Mike Senior says when you plummet out of the sky at 130 miles per hour, for a few seconds you feel and look like a man half your age. "That's when you get the rush. I lost my entire face, it was back here," laughed Mike pulling the skin back on his face to resemble the effects of a facelift. "You know people pay good money for that," I said.
Mike then described what it's like to pull the parachute and soak it all in. "Then you look around and you see the Oceanside Harbor and the beach and the ocean and the instructor's doing 360's, and you're just kind of coasting down," said Mike.
What more could anyone ask for, but a long loving life filled with honor and a soft landing. "I don't know I guess I just have a mindset that I got use it or lose it," said Mike.
Next up? A pre-centennial jump. "If I'm around," said Mike. "I think the answer is yes," said his son. One of Mike's granddaughters was too young to skydive. He plans to jump again at age ninety-five year when she becomes an adult.
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