AN intrepid 100-year-old woman has taken her first flight in a hot air balloon – joking she “wanted to have a word with the man upstairs”.
Chrissie Miller was born in May 1915, when the First World War was in its second year and powered flight was in its infancy.
Chrissie, from Scotstounhill, Glasgow, had always wanted to take a ride in a hot air balloon and on Tuesday, bolstered by a dram of whisky and declaring “I’m as mad as a hatter”, she finally got her wish as a belated 100th birthday present.
Staff at the Bield care home where Chrissie lives helped make the arrangements and even got one of her best pals, Betty McDonald, 89, to come along to wave her off.
She was given the free trip by Virgin Balloon Flights after staff at Bield’s Glasgow Flexicare service, started a ‘wishing tree’ to help elderly clients to express themselves.
Chrissie said: “I’m as mad as a hatter.
“It was exciting when they told me I was going to go. I’m 100. It’s there, so go.
“ It was the spirit of adventure, way way up high.”
She added: “At my age if the balloon pops or whatever, who cares?
“I’m not scared. I’m not bothered. I’m going to have a word with the man upstairs.”
Dainty Chrissie had to be lifted into the giant wicker basket, and then waved to pals as the balloon took off.
Normally chatty, she looked close to tears as it rose 100ft above Perthshire, and she peeked out at the Ochil hills on her left.
The four-mile flight took just under an hour, and she waved at golfers on Gleneagles course hundreds of feet below, before turning to her carer and saying “It suits me. It’s smashing.”
Chrissie, who enjoyed a dram of whisky before takeoff, even recited Wordsworth.
Chrissie was treated to a second dram of whisky after landing in a farmer’s field and needing to have the basket tipped sideways to get her out.
Asked how she felt, she was speechless, instead beaming and giving two thumbs up.
Jacqui Malarkey, who has been Chrissie’s support worker for five years, said: “We do try to give them whatever they wish for, and they do usually get it, but never in a million years did I think this would happen.
“She said to me, “I want to go away up in the sky”, and I said “In an aeroplane?”
“She said “No, in a balloon.
“It’s amazing, absolutely amazing. She’s been really excited, she’s loving it.”
Care manager Bernadette Farrell said: “The Wishing Tree Project is a fun way to go the extra mile for the people we care for.”