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Even at 89, Plum resident still has a great passion for adventure

| Thursday, June 27, 2013, 12:02 a.m.
Oakmont resident Ruth Weir, 89, is the oldest woman to parachute from a plane at Grove City Airport. She is shown here parachuting with Craig Cushing, tandem instructor at Skydive Pennslyvania, on Saturday, June 16, 2003.
Stephanie Strasburg | Tribune-Review
Ruth Weir, 89, poses for a portrait with her globe at her home in Oakmont on Tuesday, June 25, 2013. Weir picked up a hobby of skydiving through her lifelong interest in Amelia Earhart. Her globe is covered in red ink, marking where she has travelled in the world, with arrows pointing to Tanzania, Iceland, Greenland, and the North and South Poles among other places. 'I wanted to go where nobody was, see? But my favorite place was South Pole.'
Stephanie Strasburg | Tribune-Review
Folders of clippings and articles on Ameilia Earhart sit on a chair in the Oakmont home of Ruth Weir, 89, on Tuesday, June 25, 2013. Weir picked up a hobby of skydiving through her lifelong interest in Amelia Earhart. 'I wanted to be like Amelia. I wanted to fly an airplane,' she said of being drawn to skydiving.
Stephanie Strasburg | Tribune-Review
Photos of Ruth Weir, 89, of Oakmont on her last skydiving trip at Grove City Airport. Weir picked up a hobby of skydiving through her lifelong interest in Amelia Earhart. 'I wanted to be like Amelia. I wanted to fly an airplane,' she said of being drawn to skydiving.
Oakmont resident Ruth Weir, 89, is the oldest woman to parachute from a plane at Grove City Airport. She is shown here parachuting with Craig Cushing, tandem instructor at Skydive Pennslyvania, on Saturday, June 16, 2003.

Ruth Weir said she has always been an adventurer.

In 1945, at the age of 21, she joined the Women Accepted for Voluntary Emergency Service, or WAVES, a Navy unit for women established during World War II.

Inspired by aviation pioneer Amelia Earhart, Weir earned her airplane pilot's license in 1957.

When she was in her 60s, she began traveling the world — on commercial flights and cruises — to places such as Antarctica, Australia and Tanzania, she said.

Now, the 89-year-old Plum resident is jumping out of planes.

“I'm not nervous … it's not bad,” she said.

Weir and a tandem instructor parachuted 13,500 feet on June 16 from an airplane that took off from Grove City Airport, said Cecil Smith, drop zone operator at Skydive Pennsylvania.

Weir is the oldest woman to parachute during a flight from the airport in Skydive's 20-year history, Smith said.

“She did fine. Ruth was on top of things from the start. She had no problems,” said Smith, who said Weir traveled at around 130 miles per hour and had about 60 seconds of free fall followed by about a 10-minute parachute ride.

Weir parachuted for the first time in 2004, but she doesn't plan to wait nine years before jumping again, she said.

Now that she's 89, she plans to jump every year for the rest of her life, she said.

A native of Swarthmore, Weir graduated from West Chester State Teachers College, now West Chester University, with a degree in health and physical education in 1945. She and her husband, Jim Weir, raised their five children in a house at O'Hara-based Greenwood Cemetery, which the Weirs began operating in 1960, she said.

Four years ago, Ruth Weir moved into Longwood at Oakmont, a retirement community in Plum, but her husband still lives in the house at Greenwood, running the cemetery with one of the Weirs' sons.

Ruth Weir credits her passion for adventure to her admiration of Earhart, who was the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean in 1932. Earhart disappeared somewhere over the Pacific Ocean in 1937.

“Amelia was a trailblazer for me,” Weir said.

Weir no longer flies planes, but she plans to keep traveling overseas.

Her favorite place to visit so far was Antarctica.

“It was quiet. It was beautiful. The icebergs were magnificent,” she said.

Weir is young at heart, Smith said.

While walking by a 75-year-old woman waiting to parachute last week, Weir said, “‘Good luck, kid,'” Smith said.

Tory N. Parrish is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-380-5662 or tparrish@tribweb.com.

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