Experience of a lifetime

It has been a tough few weeks in my family. My mother, who is 77, lost her brother to cancer last week after a long illness and throughout the lead-up to his death, her partner John had been an amazing support to her.

Of course, when you are the age of my mother, death can be ever-present within your social circle, but that fact doesn’t make the process easier. It is always very hard to lose a sibling. My sisters and I were incredibly grateful for the support John has given our mother throughout and I wanted to thank him in a special way.

At 78, John has most things he really wants, built up over a long and happy lifetime. But he is a bit of a gadget man. He loves fixing things, tools and generally is fascinated by finding out how things work. He used to be a mechanical engineer and he loves chatting to tradesmen, technicians of all kinds and yes, even to the people in Bunnings.

So it seemed to me to that perhaps I could best thank him by offering a special type of experience, rather than just another thing to clutter up his already over-crowded apartment.

The wonderful people at Adrenaline generously gave me an opportunity to take John on one of their most popular experiences, a helicopter flight over Sydney, courtesy of Helicopter Transport & Training (HTT).

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Sydney's CBD seen from the helicopter

To a gadget guy such as John, this was absolute heaven. Despite his love of flying (he’d been in a number of small aeroplanes), he’d never actually had a helicopter ride before and it was totally on his bucket list.

I can’t possibly convey the look of pure joy on his face when he arrived at Bankstown Airport. As my mother said, he was like a six-year-old boy and he couldn’t keep the grin off his face. He chatted to our lovely pilot, Greg Kotzabasakis, about the trip, the instruments and anything else he could think of before we all got into the cabin for our much-anticipated flight.

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Flying over the Harbour Bridge

And Sydney certainly turned it on for our flight. It was a mere 30 minutes, but oh, so memorable. We took off over Homebush and Sydney Olympic Park before heading down the Parramatta river to the harbour, the Opera House and those beautifully leafy harbourside suburbs.

Such a gorgeous view! How amazing is it to go over the Harbour Bridge (literally)! An experience to be treasured by all.

John (and my mother, who came along for the ride) were thrilled to see their respective homes from the air. My mother, Elaine, was the official photographer for John as he said he thought he’d be too excited to take pictures – and he didn’t want to miss anything.

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John, the elated passenger!

It would be hard to pick the most memorable part of the experience, but really, the smile on John’s face was definitely the highlight for me. As for John, I got the biggest hug I had ever received from him and the knowledge that this was a thank-you that really meant something and would be remembered by us all forever.

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