AN extra special birthday present was definitely on the cards for Norma Leng.
After all, to reach 88 is a wonderful milestone indeed, and it should be celebrated accordingly.
But never in her wildest imaginings did the Coffs Harbour great grandmother expect a helicopter joyride would be her gift.
Her family hatched the idea and contacted Precision Helicopters at Coffs Harbour airport.
Pilot Tracey Conry yesterday took Norma, her daughter, Pat, and friend Sue Seaton for a 15 minute flight over the city.
"I was so excited when they told me a couple of days ago what we were going to do," Norma said as she was about to climb aboard.
"It's the first time I've been in a helicopter. I've always wanted to go in one."
Norma moved to Coffs Harbour from East St Kilda two-and-a-half years ago to be near her family, 'and the sea', and she loves living at the Masonic Hostel.
"It's a terrific place to be when you're old. It's excellent," she said.
Norma, who has four children, six grandchildren and six great-grandchildren, wasn't quite sure what the secret to her long life had been.
"I don't know. It just came," she said.
However, she did admit to enjoying a game of cards and a tipple each afternoon.
"I play Patience and have half a glass of red wine, which is supposed to be good for you," she said.
When asked what she'd like for her 89th birthday, she replied cheekily: "The Queen Mary would do".