103-Year-Old Woman Skydives into History

Don’t try to pigeonhole Rut Linnea Ingegard Larsson as a mere curiosity.

Sure, the 103-year-old now holds the world record for the oldest tandem parachute jump (female). But her passion for bodily aviation is as genuine as it gets.

Larsson set the record at 103 years, 259 days on May 29 in a jump with professional skydiver Joackim Johansson. During the outing, the native of Sweden — endearingly — wore sneakers her daughter bought for her, praised the fair weather, and listened to an archetypal Swedish song called Go and Try Your Wings.

But we’d be surprised to hear she was anxious about the jump because she’s now logged over a decade in the sky.

According to Guinness World Records, Larsson first discovered paragliding shortly before her 90th birthday. She took to the sky right away, registering multiple flights in paragliders, balloons, and (more recently) parachutes.

Under soaring sunny skies, Larsson, Johansson, and the pilot of their small plane lifted off from a grass airstrip in Motala, Sweden.

“You get new strength when summer comes. It will be exciting, of course, and I have no regrets!” the centenarian said leading up to the jump.

New strength, indeed. Soon, Larsson and Johansson drifted serenely downward through the sky. Her family, awaiting her arrival with her walker, rejoiced.

Born at the end of WWI

Born right after the end of World War I in 1918, Larsson grew up in the countryside outside Mjölby. She still lives there, near her five children, 19 grandchildren, and around 30 great-grandchildren.

When she’s not hurtling through the sky, spending time with her family or friends, or solving crossword puzzles, the seasoned woman explorer cultivates another passion: singing in her local choir. Guinness reported she also set another — unofficial — record last December, becoming one of the oldest women to ever play the leading role in the traditional Swedish winter musical of Luciatåg.

With her jump in late May, Larsson broke American Kathryn “Kitty” Hodges’ standing record. Hodges was 103 years and 129 days old when she secured the record in 2019.

Though Larsson reportedly doesn’t see all that well anymore, she’d had her eye on the record for a while. She first dreamed of becoming the world’s oldest woman parachutist when she first tried it at age 102 in 2020.

“There is something special in being the oldest one,” she said.

Sam Anderson

Sam Anderson spent his 20s as an adventure rock climber, scampering throughout the western U.S., Mexico, and Thailand to scope out prime stone and great stories. Life on the road gradually transformed into a seat behind the keyboard, where he acted as a founding writer of the AllGear Digital Newsroom and earned 1,500+ bylines in four years on topics from pro rock climbing to slingshots and scientific breakthroughs.