ZEPHYRHILLS — News that former President George H.W. Bush marked his 90th birthday last week by jumping from a plane got the attention of Zephyrhills Mayor Gene Whitfield. Capitalizing on the publicity, Whitfield sent a letter to Bush inviting him to make Zephyrhills the site of his 100th birthday jump.
"Whether President Bush knows it or not, he is an inspiration to so many people around the world, not just for his years of public service, but for the example he sets by making every day count and living an active, healthy life well into his golden years," Whitfield said in a news release. "It would be a thrill for all of us to see him jump here at Skydive City on the day he turns 100."
Skydive City is a jump zone located at the Zephyrhills Municipal Airport, and this year's host for the 5th Annual FAI World Championships of Canopy-Piloting Nov. 1-7.
Whitfield added that the elder Bush was welcome to bring former President George W. Bush and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush along "so they can all jump together" at the city's expense.
According to the Associated Press, the 41st president, who can no longer use his legs due to a form of Parkinson's disease, made his eighth jump on Thursday near his summer home in Maine while harnessed to a retired member of the Army's parachute team. The first time Bush jumped from an airplane was when his plane was shot down in World War II over the Pacific.
As a World War II veteran, city leaders say, the former president would feel right at home in Zephyrhills. The Zephyrhills Airport was once a World War II training facility and is home to the Zephyrhills Museum of Military History.