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'It's pure joy!': B.C. pilot takes 96-year-old grandma on meaningful flight

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CAMPBELL RIVER, B.C. -

“Good to see you,” Ryan Godard says before giving his 96-year-old grandma a big hug and walking her towards the small airplane. “Let’s get you prepped.”

To appreciate why the pair are preparing to take flight for the first time together, you need to know what Colleen Godard recently said about her 13 other grandchildren.

“I love you all equally,” she smiles before breaking into a big laugh. “But only one of you has a plane!”

Only Ryan had just crossed earning a pilot’s licence off his bucket list .

“A lot of people want to go flying,” Ryan says. “But I don’t know if anyone deserves to go flying more than my grandma.”

Because his Gigi — as Ryan affectionately calls her — has been inspiring him to live life to the fullest since he was a child.

“It’s better to face challenges and be positive,” Ryan says of what his Gigi taught him. “And just do things.”

Like when Colleen accepted the invitation to fly – after initially declining.

“I said, ‘Just remember, Ryan, I’m 96,” Colleen recalls. “My legs are really bad.”

But then she decided that, despite her age being a big number, she didn’t want to have an even bigger regret about not flying with her grandson.

So instead of blaming adversity for keeping her grounded, she smiled while being helped into the two-seater plane, and started expressing gratitude for her grandson lifting her up.

“Oh this is so beautiful!” Colleen says repeatedly while beaming out the window of the plane during their flight. “Oh wow! That’s super!”

Ryan attached a couple cameras on the wing of the plane, and in the cockpit, recording the entire flight (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AaluaDW1xVU)

The video shows them flying beside mountains, and over her home, before he takes his eyes of the gauges for a moment, followed by her turning away from the window, and they both happen to look at each other at the same time with appreciative smiles.

Colleen grabs on to her grandson’s arm and gave it a kiss. Ryan responds with, “I love you so much, grandma!”

“I can’t believe I’m so lucky,” Colleen beams.

“Me too!” Ryan smiles. “That’s exactly how I feel too!”

After they landed, he apologized for it being a “little bumpy” and she responded proudly that it was “beautifully done!”

“It’s so marvellous! Doggone it!” she exclaims with a big smile. “You know it might not be the last time!”

“I hope not, grandma,” Ryan smiles. “I’d love to take you back up again.”

Back at Colleen’s home, the 96-year-old is reflecting on living through life’s inevitable tailwinds and turbulence.

“The ‘downs’ don’t matter so much because you can’t change them,” Colleen saying before explaining that we can choose to be “up.”

“We can change ourselves.”

While Ryan credits his Gigi with inspiring him to stop waiting and start crossing items off his bucket list like learning to fly, he also suggests we can all learn how to live a more meaningful life from his Gigi.

“Her enjoyment of life is just so bright,” Ryan smiles. “It’s infectious.”

“It’s a joy,” Colleen says of flying through life fuelled with gratitude, “It’s pure joy!” 

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