Wish of a Lifetime Canada: Resident experiences thrill of a back-country helicopter landing

Resident Brian Dickinson, 82, of Chartwell Lynnwood Retirement Residence in Chilliwack, British Columbia, had a dream: he wished to experience the excitement of a unique adventure he was unable to complete some 40 years earlier. His wish was to be flown by helicopter along the coast of British Columbia to a spot where a back-country landing maneuver could be performed. Thanks to Chartwell’s partnership with Wish of a Lifetime Canada, Brian’s wish became reality as his helicopter landed atop a snow-covered mountain with Vancouver Island and volcanic Mount Baker in the distance!

Brian grew up in London and joined the navy at the young age of 16. He served as a merchant seaman for 11 years and as a nautical instructor at the Merchant Navy Training College for 10 years before moving to Canada to pursue other professional opportunities. During his time in the navy, Brian developed a strong admiration for the maintenance of lifeboats. One of the cadets Brian had instructed and befriended was a member of the Great Yarmouth Lifeboat Crew. It was this cadet’s invitation to participate in a lifeboat exercise with the Royal Air Force that later became the catalyst for Brian’s wish of a lifetime.

After being outfitted in full survival gear and taken to the (theoretical) site of a sinking yacht for the training exercise, Brian learned that he was to be cast as a survivor who would be airlifted from the water by an approaching Royal Airforce helicopter. Just as the maneuver was about to commence, something unexpected happened—the operation was cut short and the helicopter was called away to an actual emergency.

In June, Brian and his companion, Grace, flew by helicopter out of the Sky Hangar at Pitt Meadows Airport not far from Brian’s hometown of Chilliwack, thanks to Wish of a Lifetime Canada. Under beautiful skies, they cruised over the west coast to see magnificent waterfalls, alpine lakes and glacier peaks. For an added bonus, the crew performed the back-country landing Brian had always dreamed of. Their flight above the breathtaking British Columbia scenery fully revived the thrill and excitement of Brian’s earlier memory.

 “This made me realize what a wonderful world we live in. The entire experience was the highlight, from start to finish.”