A 67-year-old man may have set a new world record for reading the Gazette higher and faster than anyone before him.
Alan Darby, of Ruswarp Lane, is a veteran of almost 270 sky dives.
He has completed so many that during his most recent descent, which took place last Friday, he took a copy of the Gazette along to help stave off boredom.
“It’s the only place I can go for peace and quiet,” said Alan, a former member of the parachute regiment. “But you will never get a thrill like it, it’s unbelievable.”
He first completed a freefall course in the 1970s. He got back into the sport after a 25 year gap, but now he is retired, Mr Darby is not able to leap from perfectly functional aeroplanes as often as he would like.
His wife Christine said she has no problems with her daredevil husband’s unusual hobby, adding: “As long as he enjoys it, he can go do it.”
She used to watch her husband jump, but explained that it “isn’t really a spectator sport”, so she has now stopped going along.
However, to compromise, Alan said he puts up with his wife’s hobby. “We keep a caravan up at Hexham,” he said. “I have to cater for my wife’s pleasure, which is caravanning, and that means she lets me go skydiving.”
The local club which Mr Darby attends is Skydive GB, near Bridlington. On a clear day, when leaping from 10,000 feet, he said he can usually see Whitby in the distance.
While hurtling towards the ground at over 100mph could cause undue stress in some, Mr Darby said it actually helps to keep him young. “It keeps your mind very sharp,” he said.
At 67, Mr Darby said he has no plans to retire yet, and with the world record for oldest parachute jumper standing at 101 years of age, there are potentially hundreds more jumps for him to complete.