Pat Corbet can check one longed for experience off her bucket list: flying in a hot air ballon.
The 88-year-old Vernon resident has always wanted to soar into the sky in a hot air balloon, and thanks to the Chartwell Foundation, that lifelong dream came true Saturday, Feb. 4.
The first time the idea struck her was when she watched Around the World in 80 Days. Then, when she moved to Armstrong from Vancouver, she saw the popular Vernon Winter Carnival balloon glow event and the desire to take off in one grew stronger.
“I drove down from Armstrong and watched, spent the evening looking at all the balloons and thinking that’d be neat, I’d like to go up, I wonder how to do it,” she told The Morning Star.
Corbet moved into Chartwell Retirement Residence four years ago. Through its foundation, Chartwell gives senior residents the experience they’ve been longing for, and did so for Corbet.
“I got up the nerve to ask to go for a hot air balloon ride,” Corbet said. “Next thing I know there’s a knock on my door saying how would you like to go for your hot air balloon ride? And the rest is history.
“I’m just so overwhelmed at the moment that they’re making it happen that it’s hard to believe.”
Corbet went on the balloon ride with her close friend Suzie Sims, who has been on a hot air balloon before but was happy to share the experience.
“I’m thrilled to bits and very grateful to be the one she invited. It’s been two years waiting,” Sims said, explaining COVID-19 got in the way of the balloon launch for a couple years.
The two became fast friends living on the same block in Armstrong. They both enjoy gardening, reading, movies, classical movies, jazz — “you name it,” Sims said. And now, they can both share the title of balloon aviators.
The pair took off from Kal Tire Place North in Vernon, riding alongside a pair of videographers who captured the experience for Chartwell.
Corbet says she enjoyed the views from the plane ride she took from Vancouver to Quebec recently, and on Saturday she got to enjoy those views with the wind in her hair.