Betty, 90, hits skies in glider plane

Former RAF secretary Betty Lyons is strapped in and ready for take-off in the glider. Picture: comp
Former RAF secretary Betty Lyons is strapped in and ready for take-off in the glider. Picture: comp
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SHE spent the war years ­gazing at daring fighter pilots performing aerial acrobatics against the Luftwaffe and always dreamed of one day ­taking to the skies.

But Betty Lyons – a former RAF secretary who had never left terra firma – has fulfilled a life-long ambition by soaring across Loch Leven in a glider plane – aged 90.

The thrill-seeking great-grandmother hailed the flight as “one of the most exhilarating experiences” of her life and has been branded the “resident daredevil” of her care home Bield.

Despite her armed forces background, she never had the opportunity to take to the skies – so when the Scottish War Blinded Society offered her a seat in an glider she leaped at the chance.

The Uphall stalwart, who has lived in Bield’s sheltered housing at St Andrews Court for more than a decade, wrestles with poor eyesight but was left breathless by the stunning Scottish landscape below.

“I have trouble with my vision nowadays but I still managed to see a lot of sights and the wonderful Scottish countryside was breathtaking,” she said.

“Staff from St Andrews Court were extremely ­supportive in the lead-up to the event and really pushed me to go for it.

“If I got the opportunity to do it again, I would in a heartbeat.”

Betty said she didn’t feel nervous at all before take-off but became immersed in what was a “thrilling” experience for the plucky pensioner

The thrilling trip was ­supported by gliding charity Walking on Air which aims to provide older people and those with disabilities with the chance to “soar like birds”.

The great-granny of three said: “Last year I was ill so couldn’t attend, so when the society put the list up this year for volunteers, I was one of the first to put my name down.

“I was the only woman who did but I think that you can never be too scared, or old for that matter, to try new things.”

The OAP has already signed up for her next adventure – ­visiting a shooting range, where she will fire a gun at a target every time a whistle blows.

Sheila Hardie, a manager at St Andrews Court, said Betty was an “outstanding example” of an older person seizing their dreams. “She has no problem with throwing caution to the wind and trying new ­experiences which is what we love to see in our residents,” said Ms Hardie.

“At Bield we want our residents to live their lives as independently as possible and embrace any passions or desires they have. Betty is an outstanding example of this and we all look forward to ­supporting her through her next set of adventures.”

Another West Lothian 90-year-old hit the headlines in 2010 when she went whitewater rafting after being banned from a parachute jump.

Despite using two sticks and having two replacement knees, Gean Hodsdon took on the hair-raising feat for charity.