90-Year-Old Arizona Woman Becomes
Parachuting World Record-Holder
by Jim Bates
(This article was prepared from material published on November
24, 1992 in the Journal Inquirer, a Connecticut newspaper, as
provided by the Maturity New Service and Joe Voz, writer.)
Corinne Leslie, originally from South Bend, Indiana, has long
been a resident of the well known and sprawling retirement community
of Sun City, Arizona, not far from Phoenix. Twenty years age she
moved to Sun City with the intention of retiring from the rigors
of professional dancing as a ballerina. She had danced at places
all about the world, including the famed Radio City Music Hall
in New York City. But the retirement community of active oldsters
didn't take long to discover her background and she soon became
involved again with dancing.
Her late husband was also a professional dancer and the two of
them - as a fun thing to do - organized what was merely to be
apart-time cheerleading squad to act as "boosters" for
a local women's softball team. The team was named the "Sun
Cities Poms." Those cheerleaders definitely were not kids
- the team membership grew to 18 women who, for the most part,
were in their 70s and 80s, but they certainly were not"porch
sitters and chair rockers."
The cheerleading unit quickly became busy performing acrobatic
dance routines, then busier, and then busier still. As well as
appearances at many events, locally and nationally (in addition
to the women's softball team games), events such as parades and
festivals, the Poms also became a regular feature of the Fiesta
Bowl Parade in Tempe.
After years of working with the Poms, Corinne Leslie retired from
the group, saying the increasing scope of activity and demands
on her time were becoming too great to suit her retirement aims.
"I play golf twice a week and play pool and I have my church
work," Joe Voz reported her saying in his Maturity News Service
article. "I came to Sun City to retire 20 years ago, but
I was working harder than ever with the Poms, rehearsing, working
on new music."
Writer Voz noted that people asked her an obvious question: "Why
in the world would a 90-year-old have any desire to jump out of
an airplane?" She had an explanation: "The Poms always
march in the Fiesta Bowl Parade. Each year I would see skydivers
land before the parade and I thought it would be so much fun.
I figured I was 90 and I'd better do it. I just made up my mind.
I had decided I either wanted to take a hot air balloon ride or
go skydiving. I decided the balloon was a little too tame for
She also had encouragement from her 52-year-old daughter, who
had made her own first jump a few weeks earlier and highly recommended
Writer Voz described 90-year-old Corinne Leslie's first parachute
"The tiny plane climbed up over the vast brown Arizona desert,
wind rushing in through an open side door. "
Two miles up, Bill Will put on his goggles and helmet, turned
to the slender 120-pound woman sitting next to him, and yelled,
'OK, let's go.'
"She grabbed her goggles and helmet and joined him at the
"She and her instructor, Will - in a tandem rig - plummeted
in a freefall for 40 seconds, hitting 120 mph before the chute
opened. "'I let out a yell,' Leslie recalled. 'My mouth was
wide open and the wind rushing in dried it out.' She added, 'Once
the parachute opened up, that was nice. The landing was beautiful.'
"Later, Leslie discovered she had jumped with a cracked elbow.
'I guess the adrenaline was so high I didn't feel a thing until
later. I was so revved up.'
"Before takeoff, she had posed at the top of a human pyramid
with members of an acrobatic dance group she founded, the Sun
Cities Poms, and had fallen a few feet onto the concrete."
Mrs. Leslie was enthralled with her parachuting experience. Though
she professed to wanting to "spend a little more time perfecting
her pool game," she's also thinking about making another
skydive, most likely doing so when she can plan it with an 85-year-old
woman who has also jumped before, with each of them again making
tandem jumps and celebrating together afterward.
Writer Voz said: "She may even form a new group - the Sun
Cities Skydiving Club."
©Copyright 1996 by Jan Meyer.