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High flying birthday

Marty Lyngen of Alexandria celebrated her 70th birthday by tandem skydiving in Arizona. To view the video of Lyngen's dive, visit the website, click on "videos after Feb. 6, 2011, then click on 2/21 - 2/27/2011. Hers is number M02-W04-Y11-24.

Watching movies can be dangerous for Marty Lyngen. It makes her want to jump out of airplanes.

A couple years ago, Lyngen watched The Bucket List, in which two men who are going to die decide to accomplish all the things on their list before they "kick the bucket."

As soon as the movie was over, Lyngen started a list of her own. On her 70th birthday, she was going to go skydiving.

Lyngen and her husband, Dennis, have been residents of Alexandria for 43 years but have spent a couple months each winter in Arizona the past few years.

In Arizona, they live near Sky Dive Arizona, a business that takes both beginning and seasoned adventurers up in airplanes so they can jump out. Lyngen has always been intrigued watching those brave souls, thousands of feet up in the air, leaping and hurtling to the ground.

"We have been watching the skydivers since we have been here," Lyngen said of why she chose to skydive for her first bucket list check-off. "When anyone comes to visit we haul them out here to watch the skydivers."

There was no doubt in her mind that skydiving is what she was going to do. Two years after making the decision, Lyngen signed up to make the jump on her 70th birthday - February 18.

Mother Nature had other plans. That day dawned windy and rainy, so Lyngen and her sister-in-law, who had agreed to jump with her, had to reschedule for later in the week.

"I was excited for the day to arrive and for me to get out there and get to it," she said. "Because it was two years before that I had set the date, when it finally arrived it was such a letdown that the wind was bad and I had to wait two more days."

The weather cooperated on February 21 for the daring duo's feat. Lyngen donned her skydiving gear, strapped herself to her professional tandem partner and boarded the airplane. She insists she wasn't one bit nervous, even as she watched her planemates hurtle out into space.

"We had to wait so long, by the time I got into that plane I was roaring to go!" she said.

Finally, it was her turn. Seated at the edge of the open airplane door, her tandem partner said, "Ready, set, go," and they leapt into midair.

Lyngen relished every second of it - from the 8,000-foot freefall with the cacophony of the cold wind whipping by her ears, to the tug on the parachute string, to the quiet, gentle glide to Earth that ensued.

It was a 70-second ride she'll never forget.

"There was no time I wanted to stop, ever," she said. "This was on my list and by golly, I had no qualms about doing it."

The euphoric birthday girl described the descent as "awesome" and "exciting."

Her husband called it crazy.

But proud of his wife's adventure, he said, "She was on a high into the next day after the jump."

"It was a very cool ride," she agreed. "What an awesome feeling it was to do that!"

The minute Lyngen's feet touched the ground her head was in the clouds - already planning her next skydiving venture.

"I'm ready to go again next year," she assured.

As to her sparse bucket list, she already checked off the only thing on it: "Skydive on my 70th birthday."

"I haven't even thought about what will be on the list next," she concluded. "I'll jump one more time and then we'll see."

Until then, she better be careful about her choices at the video store.