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Jenna Bush Hager reveals why her grandfather continued skydiving later in life

The TODAY with Hoda & Jenna co-host is preparing to go skydiving on live television this Friday.
/ Source: TODAY

Jenna Bush Hager is honoring her late grandfather, former President George H. W. Bush, in a pretty special way this week.

On Friday, the TODAY with Hoda & Jenna co-host will skydive on live television, and she just revealed why jumping out of an airplane was one of her grandfather's favorite activities.

During Monday's show, Jenna said that Bush enjoyed skydiving and thought of it as a way "to celebrate life." It's a daredevil act that he performed many times throughout his life, but when he attempted to jump out of a plane in his youth, it didn't turn out the way he expected it would.

"When he was in the Navy, he hit his head when he jumped. He didn't have a clean jump, and he then was rescued. He was 19," she explained.

A photo of George H. W. Bush that was taken in the cockpit of his TBM Avenger during World War II. White House / AFP via Getty Images

Even though her grandpa didn't talk about that failed jump very often, Jenna said she always had a sneaking suspicion that he regretted it, in part because "others on the plane didn't make it."

"He always wanted to relive it, to try it again and so he did, and he did again and again," she said. "But I think there was something about seeing the world that way."

Bush, who died in 2018, would have celebrated his 97th birthday this Saturday, and Jenna is pretty excited to honor him in this sweet way. She does, however, have some pre-jump jitters.

"I'm scared," she admitted.

Former U.S. President George H.W. Bush skydiving in 2004. Getty Images / Getty Images

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Luckily, she'll be in good hands and will be working with the U.S. Army Golden Knights, a group that her grandfather jumped with, when she takes the plunge.

"I get to see the person my grandfather jumped with," she said.

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Believe it or not, this isn't Jenna's first foray into skydiving. She told her fourth hour co-host, Hoda Kotb, that she tried it once when she was 18 but said this time feels very different.

"I've got three kids, and at 18 I was still terrified," she said. "But I was wild and free, and they just pushed me out of the plane and there I went."

But if her grandfather, who continued skydiving into his 90s, could do it, we believe in Jenna, too!