1:00pm

Wed March 21, 2012
NPR Story

Grandma 'Glides' To Guinness Record

For her 101st birthday last September, Mary Hardison took to the sky for her very first paragliding trip and soared to a Guinness World Record.

"I felt very serene, I looked all around, and looked at the buildings, looked at the mountains," she said.

With her family cheering hundreds of feet below, Hardison soaked in the view.

"There was a whole flock of little grandkids and great-grandkids that had signs that said happy birthday for me while I was up in the air," she said. "And I just enjoyed looking around."

The great-great-grandmother from Ogden, Utah, was officially recognized Tuesday as the "Oldest Female to Paraglide Tandem." Guinness World Records doesn't have a record of anyone older, male or female, who has ever paraglided.

Hardison didn't even know she was setting the record. The whole thing was a bit of a lark.

"I'm one of those people that do things on the spur of the moment," she said.

She's also not one to be outdone. After her 75-year-old son took up paragliding, she says she didn't want him to do something that she couldn't do.

This isn't the first time Hardison has done something that might be considered beyond her years.

"On my 90th birthday, I went to Disneyland and went on all the adult rides that were open," she said. "So I'm just not at home here sitting and moaning and groaning 'cuz I'm old."

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Our next story is about a first-time pilot of sorts.

(SOUNDBITE OF CHEERING)

CORNISH: Back in September, for her 101st birthday, Mary Hardison took to the sky for her very first paragliding trip and soared to a Guinness world record.

MARY HARDISON: I felt very serene. I looked all around and looked at the buildings, looked at the mountains.

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

Paragliders take off from the ground hanging from a parachute that catches the wind like a giant kite. And with her family cheering hundreds of feet below, Hardison soaked in the view.

HARDISON: There were a whole flock of little grandkids and great-grandkids that had signs that says happy birthday for me while I was up in the air, and I just enjoyed looking around.

CORNISH: Yesterday, the great-great-grandmother from Ogden, Utah, was officially recognized as the oldest female to paraglide tandem. And we should note that Guinness World Records doesn't have a record of anyone older - male or female - who has ever paraglided, period.

SIEGEL: But Hardison didn't even know she was setting the record. The whole thing was a lark.

HARDISON: I'm one of those people that do things on the spur of the moment.

CORNISH: She's also not one to be outdone. After her 75-year-old son took up paragliding, she says she didn't want him to do something that she couldn't do. And this isn't the first time Hardison has done something that might be considered beyond her years.

HARDISON: On my 90th birthday, I went to Disneyland and went on all the adult rides that were open. So I'm just not at home here sitting and moaning and groaning because I'm old.

CORNISH: And Hardison hopes her record can help other senior citizens by motivating them to, as she puts it, get out and do things.

SIEGEL: In fact, Mary Hardison says she would be happy to see her record broken by another centenarian thrill-seeker. For now, though, it stands at 101 years old, and it's all hers.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

CORNISH: This is NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright National Public Radio.