LEBANON — Dorothea Labrie keeps it simple on most Mother’s Days, maybe dining out with her family or just staying home with them.

But this year, the white-haired great-grandmother from Lewiston requested something different – a 14,000-foot plunge in a parachute with her family around her. Labrie said that at 86, you never know when you might run out of time, and she was only following the example of former President George H.W. Bush, who parachuted from a helicopter near his home in Kennebunkport on his 90th birthday four years ago.

“If he can do it, I can,” said the soft-spoken volunteer at the Good Shepherd Food Bank.

So on Sunday, Labrie and her son Thom Labrie, 69; his daughter, Christie Labrie, 47; and her son, Caleb Labrie, 21, all of Greene, took a four-generation dive over Skydive New England, a 30-year-old skydiving business in Lebanon with the motto “no experience necessary, just a sense of fun,” which Labrie definitely has. None of them had ever sky-dived before.

This was not Labrie’s first venture into aviation. A decade ago she took over the controls of a small plane out of Auburn-Lewiston Airport for part of the flight.

Labrie said she really couldn’t articulate what compelled her to jump out of a plane at 86. She said doesn’t like to fly on commercial jets but makes herself do it, she said.


“She has wanted to do this for years. You kind of humor her and then last Sunday she said, ‘We are going,’ ” said Thom Labrie.

His brother, David Labrie, 54, a computer technician from Mansfield, Massachusetts, came along to record the family sky dive on video. Videographer Meaghan Meehan also recorded a video of the sky dive.

Labrie, who has six grandchildren and two great-grandchildren, suited up after a 30-minute instructional session on what to expect during their dive. Each of them would be attached to an instructor at four different points, each point able to hold up to 5,000 pounds. She learned the tandem dive would involve a 60-second free fall at 120 mph, in which they would plunge 1,000 feet every six seconds. Then the parachute would deploy and for the rest of the dive they would descend at a stately 20 mph for another four minutes or so. The instructor would do most of the work.

“I am a little nervous,” Labrie said before the jump.

Her family turned to gallows humor to ease their mounting tensions.

“This can’t be worse than getting hit in hockey,” said Caleb, a real estate agent who plays with the Lewiston/Auburn Nordiques hockey team.


“This can’t be worse than teaching fifth-grade math or than hiking Huntington Ravine,” a difficult trail on Mount Washington, said Christie Labrie, a fifth-grade math teacher.

Instructor Tom Bruton yelled out: “Four generations. This is going to be nuts!”

Thom Labrie shot back, “We have to make it home as four generations, too.”

Soon the group was headed to the 22-passenger plane that would take them up into the sky. A few minutes later they were just a pinprick in the sky. Suddenly little dots began to drop from the plane, sprouting parachute tails as they plunged toward the ground.

Labrie, with her white hair and white sneakers, and her instructor, Brian Boyle, came into view and they gently touched down, sliding into the ground as if on a toboggan.

Labrie quickly got to her feet, brushed off her family’s offers to find her a seat to rest on, and walked briskly off the field under her own power.


Labrie said that on her way down she didn’t have too much time to think or wonder how the rest of the family was faring.

“That was more exciting than I thought it would be,” she said.

But, Labrie said, she was not ready to do it again.

An 86-year-old Lewiston great-grandmother and her family celebrate with a parachute jump.

Dorothea Labrie, 86, of Lewiston goes sky diving with instructor Brian Boyle on Sunday. Photo by Meaghan Meehan/Skydive New England

Caleb Labrie, from left, Christie Labrie, Thom Labrie and Dorothea Labrie pose for a photo Sunday in Lebanon. Photo courtesy of Thom Labrie

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