NEW MINAS, NS – Cyril Mosher may have turned 82 on December 4, but he doesn’t feel even close to that age, and for good reason – he’s busier than most people half his age.
Mosher lives in New Minas with his wife, Vera, and runs his own forestry instrumentation company.
On the side, he owns and flies a plane, sails his boat, plays pool, swims in one, goes on hot air balloon adventures, repels down cliff sides, listens to jazz, drinks spicy chocolate chai tea, is a national octogenarian pilot recruiter and goes on road trips. His zest for life hasn’t faded, but rather gotten brighter, over the years. To him, age is merely a number, and he’s never felt a day over 65.
“Why would I retire or stop doing something I love when I’m able to keep going? It’s just not going to happen,” he says.
A lifelong passion takes off
Mosher was 18 when he first flew in a plane, but it wasn’t until several years after that he flew one himself while worked at the Central Experimental Proving Establishment in Cold Lake, Alberta, with the Canadian Air Force, and fell in love with aviation.
Mosher worked as a chase photographer capturing images from a CF-104D Starfighter airplane, often flying twice the speed of sound.
It was hard to tell how fast they were flying until the plane slowed down.
“That’s when you really feel it – you’re thrown forward, and you feel the pressure on you,” he says.
Despite the pressure, Mosher still wanted to fly, and was able to talk one of the pilots into letting him take the controls.
He felt blown away by feelings of adrenaline and acute nervousness. It wasn’t until after a full year of flying that those nerves went away.
“There’s so much to learn, and lots at stake – I mean, you’ve even got bombs strapped under your seat. It’s not something to take lightly, but you do eventually get used to it,” he says.
Flying for fun with family
Mosher continued on to receive his own private pilot license in 1967, then his commercial one, and then got certified as an instructor.
He’d often take his sons and daughter up in the plane, which always got them excited.
“It was like the fair for them. They loved it when we did that,” he says.
He and Vera would also rent a plane from the base and fly to New Brunswick to see her father.
“It was wonderful, getting to do that,” says Vera.
His next posting was to 14 Wing Greenwood to instruct, eventually becoming the Chief Flight Instructor at the Greenwood Flying Club, from which he retired in 1977.
Mosher stepped away from flying in 1979, to shift his focus to other things.
“I knew I wasn’t giving it up forever, but I also knew I had to try my hand at something else,” he says.
Capturing another interest
Mosher spent the next few years building his forestry instrumentation business, which he still runs today.
Once the business was off the ground, Mosher got back to finding and developing different interests, including playing pool on his professional pool table, swimming laps every week at Acadia University’s pool, travelling to his condo in Florida, photography, and sailing.
It was this last one that really captured his interest. Recalling memories of sailing as part of his uncle’s crew on Lake Banook, he and Vera decided to buy a sailboat after selling their Florida condo. They ran into trouble while sailing their new 33-foot sailboat home from Prince Edward Island to Chester Basin.
Rough seas caused them to run aground near Canso, where the Coast Guard, in its first rescue of the year, saved them.
“They were not very happy with us, but what can you do?” laughs Vera.
They ran into trouble again as a storm hit as they neared Chester and found all inlets closed off with fishermen’s nets.
“We had to pull into Peggy’s Cove which, as many know, is no easy task,” says Mosher.
But they made it, and had many sailing adventures to follow.
It wasn’t until years later, in 2011, that Mosher made his way back to flying, travelling on a spontaneous two-day road trip with his son, Phil, to Ottawa to pick up his new toy – a Quad City Challenger II Ultralight two-seater plane.
But don’t ask him to choose whether he prefers being in the air or on the water.
“Flying is an amazing thing. I get to go up there, and if I’m ever stressed or worried, it just goes away. It clears my head,” he says.
“But being on the water is something I’ve also never feared. It feels natural.”
Keeping busy key to feeling young
Mosher has expanded his interests lately after discovering some new passions.
Three years ago, Mosher discovered David’s Tea, and has now become an avid tea drinker. His favourite variety is a chocolate, chilli, chai flavour, which he says packs quite a punch.
He’s also been introduced to the world of music through quality noise-cancelling headphones, and says he enjoys listening to jazz, classical, and rock from the 70’s and 80’s.
He’s also the Canadian representative for the international United Flying Octogenarians club, which any pilot in command after 80 can join.
His activities and interests are a long list that will keep growing, if Mosher has anything to say about it.
“I’m interested in anything I find interesting. I have eclectic tastes, what can I say,” he laughs.
While a modest man day to day, Mosher has no qualms with feeling pride when it comes to the healthy outlook he keeps on life, and feels inspired when he sees others in their eighties, nineties and older who feel the same, and looks forward to many more adventures to come.
“I sometimes think I want to jump out of a plane, but I’m not ready to go just yet. Maybe when I’m 90,” he says.
“Age doesn’t mean anything, and I’m enjoying myself. Why would I give something up when I enjoy it?”