Plane & Pilot
Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Airborne Proposal

A momentous final approach to a new beginning

Taxiing out to the runway, I did my run-up checks, lined up on the runway and took off. The Latrobe Valley is one of the most beautiful parts of Victoria, and this day was no exception. The lovely green pastures dotted with houses and cows gradually became smaller as we climbed to 3,000 feet.

Emmeline seemed tense at first but gradually began to become more relaxed, much to my relief. Over the next half hour, I gave her a scenic view of the area, finally suggesting that we return to the airfield and perform a few touch-and-goes. She was happy enough though a little nervous, since she had never seen me land before.

Joining the circuit again and confirming the wind was now straight down the runway, I slowed the aircraft and configured it for the landing. Turning onto final, the view was beautiful and I wanted to pull off a perfect landing, to build my confidence if not hers!

Selecting 30 degrees of flaps, the aircraft was configured for landing. As the ground came closer however, Emma seemed more nervous. Passing over the perimeter fence at 65 knots, I gradually reduced power and raised the nose. The stall warning sounded just as the wheels skimmed across the dirt runway. It was a perfect landing.

As I powered away and raised flaps in increments, I noticed that Emma seemed visibly impressed and her anxiety seemed a great deal less. Another lovely landing, thanks to the weather, and I knew I should make the next one a full stop. I didn't think Emmeline suspected anything yet, so fingers crossed!

On the last circuit, I performed a longer than usual downwind leg to allow plenty of time. As I turned onto base, I asked Emmeline to open the manual compartment and retrieve a white envelope. As she pulled out the envelope she read the writing on the front, "Emmeline, will you…"

As she stared in silent disbelief, I made my radio call and turned onto final approach and proposed to the girl of my dreams in the most romantic environment I could imagine, suspended between heaven and earth. Enclosed in the envelope was an engagement ring with the rest of the sentence handwritten on paper, "...marry me?"

I'll always remember her response as she looked at me and said, "Reuben, I'd love to."

The relief that came over me was heightened only by the smoothness of the landing as the aircraft settled onto the runway in an iconic representation of the smooth completion of a long anticipated plan, but yet the start of a journey through life, likewise challenging but equally successful.

I'll never forget the experience of my life. It goes down as one of my greatest achievements. Something I've worked toward for a long time, and it turned out beautifully. The future holds many challenges, but my determination to fly in medical aviation has never changed, and together with Emmeline, we'll achieve this goal, through thick or thin.

Update: We've been happily married over a year, and I'm continuing working toward my passion of flying commercially.

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