Jessica Peters/ The Progress Photos from the top: Florence Nickel, in headset, prepares for her trip to see Mt. Cheam from the air; Pilot Arvid Isaak and Florence Nickel meet at Chilliwack airport and prepare for the adventure.

Chilliwack senior’s wish comes true above Cheam

Nickel, 88, flown to see peak of mountain by Abbotsford pilot

Florence Nickel has stood atop a Swiss Alp, gazed out over Paris from the Eiffel Tower, and rested her eyes upon the wondrous Uluru in Australia’s outback.

She’s travelled all over B.C., Canada, and the world, checking the marvels of the world off her list of adventures as the years went by. And she was always happy to return to her home on Hope River Road, with her glorious view of Mt. Cheam.

But as time went on, the desire to climb Mt. Cheam grew stronger. Her children had summited the mountain, just as many Chilliwack residents do each year. But Nickel never got the chance.

That is, she never got the chance to physically climb the hill. But recently, as the clouds parted and the smoke from the summer’s forest fires cleared, she was lifted up, up and away to get a close-up view of the mountain’s peak.

Abbotsford Flying Club (AFC) pilot Arvid Isaak took Nickel and her son, Lynn Nickel, on a flight made possible through the AFC and Allister Murphy, at Birchwood Retirement Residence where Nickel lives. It was part of the Moments that Matter program through Chartwell Residences.

Nickel, Isaak and crew took off from the Chilliwack Airport for an evening flight, buzzed over the city and headed up to make the “climb” to the peak.

They followed the airspace above the popular hiking trail, giving Nickel as close to the real experience as possible. The Abbotsford Flying Club put out the call earlier this year that they wanted to fulfill a dream for someone, and when they read Nickel’s letter about her wish, they knew she would be the one.

“We lived in our house on Hope River Road in Chilliwack for 46 years,” she wrote. “Every morning, when no clouds got in the way, I saw Mt. Cheam from the upstairs window. As many other people have done, our three sons walked to the top over the years. but I never made it.”

She lists all the places she’s been, from the guards at Buckingham Palace, palm trees in southern Ireland, and mist in Scotland.

Everywhere she’s travelled, she’s sought out the pinnacle of the experience. In Haida Gwaii, she met the White Spirit Raven. In Italy, she discovered the best ice cream in the world, and in Spain, she visited an underground church.

So it makes sense that while in Chilliwack, she should experience the view from this city’s most majestic mountaintop. And she approached the day of the plane trip with just as much wild abandon.

When Isaak asked who would be taking the front passenger seat of the four-seat Cessna, she made it clear she was in for an adventure.

“That’s my seat!” she laughed, as the group headed out onto the tarmac. Once all adjusted into the plane, headset on and flight plan explained, Nickel’s ear-to-ear smile lit up the runway.

Then, they lifted off and heading into the sunny, blue sky. For Isaak, a chance to give back to his community. And for Nickel, the chance of a lifetime.


@CHWKcommunity
jpeters@theprogress.com

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Pilot Arvid Isaak and Florence Nickel meet at Chilliwack airport and prepare for adventure to the peak of Mt. Cheam. (Jessica Peters/ The Progress)

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