Wish of a Lifetime Canada: James Takes Flight

James Long, 94, has always admired the miracle of flight. As a young man growing up in Ontario, he would watch planes soaring overhead and dream of one day experiencing the thrill of aviation for himself. James eventually became a pilot later in life, an achievement that allowed him to fly to places like Prince Edward Island and California dozens of times. This alone was a dream come true for James, but there was one piece of the puzzle missing.    

When asked what his wish of a lifetime would be, it didn’t take long for James to decide. All he had to do was look to the skies near his Chartwell Bayview Retirement Residence in Belleville, Ontario. As Hercules 130C airplanes roared overhead, bound for the nearby Trenton Airbase, James knew exactly what his wish would be. “I always thought it would be nice to get a ride in a Herc’,” said James, who has long admired this particular model. “I didn’t dream it was ever going to come about.”

James’ dream became a reality thanks to Chartwell’s partnership with Wish of a Lifetime Canada and the kind individuals at the 436 Transport Squadron. On March 30, he finally got the chance to ride in a Hercules, and his spirits were sky-high. “It will be a while before I get over this one,” said James. “It was just a fantastic day.”

In his younger days, James proudly served in the Navy during the Second World War. He had originally wanted to join the Air Force but was told that his chances of actually flying a plane were slim. They explained that his mechanical skill would probably have him working on planes, rather than flying them. “I was 19 years old at the time and that didn’t sound like a lot of fun, so I joined the Navy instead.”

A free spirit with a big heart, James has mentored a number of young children in his time, offering to take them fishing or skiing if they had no one else to go with. Though he misses being able to fly or traverse the wilderness like he used to, he appreciated the chance to have his ultimate wish fulfilled.

These days, James still manages to keep active at his residence. Wii bowling tournaments, bird watching and community social events fill his agenda and his adventurous spirit continues to soar.

To nominate a senior for a Wish of a Lifetime, please speak with your Lifestyle & Programs Manager or Program Support Services Manager or visit www.wishofalifetime.ca.