Utah woman, 101, paraglides into record books

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — A 101-year-old Utah woman who ushered in her birthday with a tandem paraglide ride last year soared into the record books Tuesday.

Great-great grandmother Mary Hardison, of Ogden, has been officially recognized as the “Oldest Female to Paraglide Tandem” by Guinness World Records. She has supplanted a 100-year-old woman from Cyprus who took her flight in 2007.

Hardison flew with an instructor on Sept. 1, 2011, while four generations of her family watched and cheered. The flight went smoothly and even included a few tricks that Hardison encouraged.

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Mary Hardison, 101, of Ogden, Utah, is photographed with her family. Guinness World Records said Tuesday that Hardison of Ogden is officially the oldest female to paraglide tandem. Hardison decided to paraglide because her 75-year-old son was doing it as a hobby, and she says she couldn’t let him do something she didn’t at least try.

Hardison said she wanted to paraglide because her 75-year-old son began doing it as a hobby.

“I didn’t want him to get too far ahead of me, so I decided that I’d go too,” she said Tuesday.

Fear never entered the equation for Hardison, who previously rode all of the adult rides at Disneyland to celebrate her 90th birthday.

Hardison said she was shocked to learn her flight had become a world record.

“To me, I was just going on a little ride,” she said. “I had no idea I’d break a record.”

Hardison said her active lifestyle has already inspired others her age to pursue similar adventures.

“Some people have said, ‘Well, if you can do that at your age then there’s no need for me to just sit around,’” she said. “My desire is for the elderly to keep on going. Do things as long as you are physically able. Be positive. Friends don’t like a grumpy person.”

When Hardison decided to take the birthday leap, family members were concerned for her safety. After all, it was her first flight and she was the oldest customer the paragliding company had ever taken into the air.

“My first reaction was she was nuts,” said daughter-in-law Bonnie Hardison. “But everyone is just so excited and thinks this record is great.”

As for any future flights, Mary Hardison, who spends her days quilting for charities, is just playing it by ear.

“If the notion strikes, I’ll go again,” she said.

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