He jumped

Harvey Helsten completed a tandem skydive on April 15 for his 80 birthday which was April 16. Photo by Teri Nehrenz

April 16 has an average of 10,909 births recorded in the U.S. for that day over a period of ten years, 1994-2014, and is 260 in the ranks of most common birthdays out of 365 making it not very common at all. People born on that day might carry with them some uncommon characteristics. It is most certainly the case with local resident, 80 year old, Harvey Helsten who decided to celebrate his uncommon birthday in a very uncommon way; he jumped out of an airplane at 15,000 feet on April 15. He’s already beat all of the odds and outlived his life expectancy so Helsten said, “I’ve lived a good long life, I figured why not.”

Helsten didn’t venture out to the Mesquite Airport and Skydive Mesquite to go it alone; he took his granddaughter, Hailee Walsh with him giving her the opportunity to complete her bucket list item at a much younger age when the joints are a little more forgiving.

Harvey Helsten and granddaughter Hailee Walsh (Left) completed their tandem jumps to fulfill Grandpa’s 80 birthday wish. Their skydive instructors took care of recovering the chutes while Josie Heath (right), a veteran skydiver and Wildland Firefighter/Paramedic, from Las Vegas, hauls in her rig after completing her third dive for the day. Photo by Teri Nehrenz

Helsten also had a gang of supporters consisting of friends and family members to watch even his daughter, Walsh’s mother, brought along her best friend all the way from California.

Helsten also had a gang of supporters consisting of friends and family members to watch even his daughter, Walsh’s mother, brought along her best friend all the way from California. Photo by Teri Nehrenz

Those who are familiar with the Mesquite Toes or Missoula Children’s Theatre may have seen Grandpa Harvey in the audience quite often as both Grandchildren Brooke and Conner Helsten are quite the performers in theatre and dance. Their mother and Helsten’s other daughter Taralee dances with the Mesquite Toes.

With a gang of on-lookers and well-wishers grandfather and granddaughter made the tandem jumps. They free-fell for about 5,000 feet before the ripcord was pulled and the chute released and Helsten explained that the feeling, the sight, the sound was all so serene. Very peaceful and a little surreal floating to earth; it was an experience he’s very happy to have had. Both jumpers did claim that there were a few aches associated with the dive which were tolerable and expected due to the muscles that aren’t conditioned for skydiving but it didn’t stop them from making the most of Helsten’s birthday celebration long into the night on Saturday. The actual day of his birth fell on Easter Sunday making Helsten’s birthday and its celebration that much more uncommon.

Mesquite Grandpa, Greg Harmon, gave his granddaughters Emilee and Sarah Blake both graduation gifts. One granddaughter is graduating college in Washington State and the other getting ready to graduate high school in Northern California. Grandpa delivered on the ultimate gift of a tandem jump for each while mom, Michelle, and other family members watched on. Photo by Teri Nehrenz

Helsten wasn’t the only Mesquite Grandfather at Skydive Mesquite celebrating on Saturday. Greg Harmon gave his granddaughters Emilee and Sarah Blake both graduation gifts. One granddaughter is graduating college in Washington State and the other getting ready to graduate high school in Northern California. Grandpa delivered on the ultimate gift of a tandem jump for each while mom, Michelle, and other family members watched on.

 

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