Duane Krause made a leap of faith — from 14,000 feet above ground.
For three decades, the Fremont man had wanted to go skydiving. So recently, he began doing some research to find a business that could help him accomplish the sky-high feat.
And just days before his 80th birthday, Krause made a tandem jump from an airplane through the Lincoln Sport Parachute Club.
“It was thrilling,” said Krause on Monday, his actual 80th birthday.
Krause began thinking about skydiving when he was in his 40s. Back then, he flew a Cessna 182.
“I just loved being up in the sky,” he said. “It was so lovely and calm and peaceful. I started thinking about parachuting then, but kept putting it off — and, somehow, 30 years went by.
“So I decided I just had to do it.”
He got online where he learned about the parachute club, which flies out of the airport at Weeping Water.
Krause headed to the airport on Friday with his wife, Helen — “and had her blessing.”
It was a beautiful day with a low layer of clouds. Krause met with tandem instructor, Tyler Hinkle, who explained what would happen and what he would need to do.
“You have to hold your body in an arch in order to do the dive,” Krause said.
The plane climbed to 14,000 feet. The men jumped and had one minute of free fall time, which Krause found thrilling and a little scary — “knowing you’re out there without anything holding you up.”
Hinkle then opened the parachute.
“Once we opened the chute, it was so beautiful and so peaceful and so calm and I just loved it,” Krause said. “It’s absolutely quiet.”
Hinkle asked if Krause wanted to spin.
“We went spinning around in circles. I had to close my eyes,” Krause said.
Krause said he’s glad he went skydiving.
Except for his wife, Krause didn’t brief other family members on his plans beforehand.
“I didn’t tell anyone until after I jumped in case I backed out. And I didn’t want anyone worrying about me,” he said.
What did other family members think?
“They were kind of enthused — like ‘wow Dad,’” he said.
Krause might make another jump in the future.
“I told the guy I’d be back for my 90th birthday,” Krause said.
In the meantime, he’s grateful for what he has.
“I’m so fortunate to be here and to be in pretty good health and to be able to enjoy life yet. I feel like I’m a very fortunate man and fortunate to have the wife I have,” Krause said.
The former medical director of the department of radiology at Fremont Health and his wife have four sons and their spouses, three grandsons and two great-grandsons.
Cory McBeth, president of Lincoln Sport Parachute Club, noticed that Krause seemed to enjoy the experience.
“He had a smile on his face,” McBeth said. “I could tell he was very happy that he did it.”
And McBeth said the club is ready to take Krause on another jump when he reaches 90.
“We’d be happy to do it,” McBeth said. “We have a member who’s in his late 80s, who jumps regularly. So if you’re 100, come on out. We’ll take you up.”