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The sky really was Marcella Hein's only limit earlier this month.

At 88, the Fremont woman fulfilled her longtime dream of skydiving when she jumped from a small plane in California on June 9.

"It was the best experience I've ever had," said Hein, who hopes to return in two years - when she's 90 - to become the oldest jumper for Skydive Surf City in Watsonville, Calif.

Hein was in her early 20s when she took flying lessons from her brother, the late Bud Ranslem. Then she met Max Hein and they got married.

"That put a damper on my flying, but I think if I could have kept on I would have been a pilot," she said.

The Heins had five children and Marcella worked at Sampter's clothing store in Fremont for some 40 years. She retired and traveled with her husband, while he drove a semi-truck. They did more traveling after he retired. He died in 2008.

More recently, Marcella was watching the news when she saw a piece about skydiving.

"Boy, I'd sure love to do that," she said.

So daughter, Robyn Buckingham of Millbrae, Calif., 15 miles south of San Francisco, began researching possibilities on the Internet.

The skies were clear and sunny when Hein jumped from the plane over the Pacific Ocean at 10,000 feet.

"It's the most wonderful feeling when you're dropping," she said, adding she was never scared.

Hein's instructor and tandem partner then pulled one cord on her parachute and she got to pull the other.

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"And then after that, you marvel over the sight," she said.

Hein made the freefall, then soared through the air before landing, feet-first, on the beach, Buckingham said.

"I landed very well," Hein said. "I did what (the instructor) told me to do. There was no problem landing."

Hein's daughter, Diane House, and two of her granddaughters, Lisa House and Sara Buckingham, all of Millbrae, also went skydiving.

Buckingham said when her mother goes skydiving again, she likely will jump from 14,000 feet, because the freefall was her favorite part of the experience.

The California woman has high praise for her mom.

"Marcella is an inspiration to her family and friends, showing them that life is meant to be lived," she said. "She is a fearless woman who is able to look back and say, ‘I did it my way.'"


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