When I was 17 years old, I went into the WAAF (Women’s Auxiliary Air Force) in England and signed on for four years. I was training in photography. The last part of the course, we went up in a plane to do aerial photography. I had the parachute on, and they’d taken away a panel from underneath the nose of the plane and installed a framework with the camera over the top. So, once we reached the right height, the pilot said to me, ‘right, take your parachute off and crawl under here.’ We were operating the camera to make squares on maps. I could see down the sides of the framework all these tiny fields and cars going along lanes, and I felt, wouldn’t it be marvellous to do a parachute jump? When we landed, I said to the pilot, ‘is there any chance we would ever get to do a parachute jump?’ He said, ‘not out of my plane you won’t, that will mean we were in trouble.’ The WAAFs weren’t allowed to do it, it was very male-orientated in 1949.
So, I thought to myself, I’d like to do that at some time.
When it was approaching my 80th birthday, I heard about sky diving at Kirra. They said I’d need a letter from my doctor, who is a bit of a comedian, so he wrote, ‘Betty Gregory is perfectly fit to jump out of a perfectly fit aircraft.’ The skydiving boss said to me, ‘you’ll have to put this suit on.’ I said, ‘I don’t want to wear a suit.’ It was an old one-piece thing. ‘Well,’ he said, ‘we don’t want your bits flapping in the breeze.’ So, they gave me a big T-shirt to wear over the top. They opened the door and we sat on the edge of the plane, all clamped up together, he tapped me on the shoulder and pushed the two of us out. I yelled ‘Geronimo’; it was great! I loved it. It’s exhilarating, I didn’t feel any fear at all. Once the parachute opens, of course, you’re just gently swaying from side to side and the views are magnificent.
I’m not brave, it’s just all good fun.
Before Betty and the kids scattered her second husband’s cremated remains, he had given her instructions – ‘remember Betty, look for the 7th wave because that’s always the biggest, and scatter me just after that.’ He couldn’t swim, so he wanted to be placed in the shallow water off the groin in Palm Beach. Betty followed his instructions, but a big wave came right after and washed his ashes all over her legs! ‘So much for that,’ she chuckled, and his kids laughingly said, ‘he doesn’t want to leave you, Betty’.