Sunday, July 24, 2022

Louise Walsh

An 86-year-old grandmother who has completed a skydive and is able to stand on her head in yoga has ticked another feat off her bucket list – flying a plane.

Annette Callan flew the two-seater plane in an introductory lesson in recent weeks and cannot wait to get back up in the sky to pilot another aircraft.

The self-confessed adrenalin junkie has already jumped 10,000ft from an aeroplane in a skydive and scaled Croagh Patrick before Covid-19 put the brakes on her adventures.

The daredevil from Ardee, Co Louth, cycles 20km three times a week and is able to stand on her head during 6.30am daily yoga sessions.

Annette Callan in the cockpit

In recent years she has also gone jet skiing and parasailing on family holidays and loves going for rides on the back of her son-in-law’s motorcycle.

Her daughter, Deirdre McCormack, said the whole family cannot believe how full of life she is and is always looking for the next exhilarating activity to try.

“We can’t keep up with her. I’d be embarrassed to tell her I was tired after a day’s work,” she said.

“Even during Covid-19, she never stopped. She wouldn’t hear tell of anyone doing the shopping for her and up she drove each week to get all her own bits and enough produce to cook for all of us.

“She looks after the grandkids when her children are working and is really the backbone of this family. The grandchildren even make her play midfield in soccer with them.

“Thankfully, she’s never had Covid-19 – I don’t think it would dare touch her,” she laughed.

Annette about to skydive 10,000ft

“She has perfect hearing and eyesight and lives a healthy lifestyle. She isn’t on any medication at all.

“Unfortunately Covid-19 put paid to her plans for another skydive in 2020 but now she’s eyeing up the company to do it again. My husband has to bring her out on his motorbike to give her an adrenalin buzz. She is unbelievable.

“I think she put her life on ice for so long to rear her children and now it’s time for her to live on the edge and fair play to her.

“At her age, you think parents become somewhat dependent on their children but not mam, we are all heavily dependent on her,” she said.

“We all bought her an introductory flying lesson at the National Flight Centre in Kildare and up she went for an hour. The instructor got a great kick out of her and even let her take full control of the plane as she travelled through the skies, over Meath and Louth.

“She absolutely loved it and can’t wait to get back up again so I’d say that’s the Christmas and birthday presents from us sorted for a while.”

Annette said previously that she gets out even in the cold weather, when she warms up two potatoes in the microwave and pops them in her gloves to keep her hands warm

“I think the secret is to keep moving and not to give up. I’m a very strong-minded person and I won’t let anything beat me – so bring on the next challenge,” she chuckled. “I also try to keep positive. I hate being around complainers.

“Sure I’m busier now than I was 20 years ago.

“I couldn’t wait to get into the driving seat in the plane as I am a bit of a daredevil – I was so looking forward to the challenge of flying solo and ticking another thing off the bucket list.

“It was a wonderful experience. I had a great sense of freedom and calm up there. Being in control of the aircraft was really stimulating and just goes to show that you are never too old to do anything.”

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