Romance is truly alive and well! If you don’t believe it, you will after reading Elizabeth Heizler’s submittal to our “Flying High Wedding” series. I’m in awe reading the stories sent in by pilots who decided to get married aloft or at an airport. Just like Mary & Dennis and Mike & Sherry’s weddings, this one is as far from “typical” as you can get. Send in your own story to “Flying High Weddings”.
I would love to say my husband Don and I met somewhere interesting but the reality is we met online. I lived pretty far away but he was interested because I had said in my bio that I was interested in becoming a pilot. So despite the 2.5 hour drive distance between us he messaged me saying he was a pilot and thought it was pretty cool that I liked flying too. We emailed for months but I was nervous to go on a date so far away from home. My friends encouraged me to give it a shot. On our first date he took me to the Sky Harbor airport to look at the airplanes (one of which was his cousin’s 172). I think he had my heart from that point on. His knowledge of airplane types and specs was endless and it was interesting to listen to him talk about each plane. It didn’t hurt that he was good looking either.
As I got to know Don, one thing I found out about him is he takes a very, very long time to make a decision. But after just eight short months he asked me to marry him. On his birthday none the less! He told me it was one of the easiest decisions he’s had to make.
Several months after our engagement I earned my private pilot. I think it was my second or third flight as a fully licensed pilot that went horribly wrong. All the runways were covered in snow and ice and I was flying into an airport I was unfamiliar with. I had came in hot and high and finally planted down with half the runway behind me. I tried to brake but only slid on the snow and ice and I was coming up to the end of the asphalt with about 50 knots left to kill in less than 700 feet. After lots of swear words I powered back up and barely missed the tops of the trees at the end of the runway. I was mortified at my poor piloting skills and when I told my fiancee about my mishap and my concern with ruining the plane we were building. Don shrugged and said, “you won’t ruin it”. Umm, hello! Was he not listening to what I said? He looked up at me and said, “you are a good pilot, and you did the right thing. You’ll be fine in our plane too”. I gave him a snobby retort asking how he could possibly know this. “You’re not dead,” he answered as he went back to placing the rivets in the fuselage,”I have faith if your abilities. You should too.” I stood with my mouth open and nothing coming out for what felt like an eternity. From that second forward I knew without a doubt that this was the man I was meant to marry.
We decided the airport was the most appropriate place to get married since we’re both pilots and we both love aviation. I said I wanted to get married at the Superior Airport (KSUW). That place held very special meaning for me because it was where I took my first solo flight and earned my private pilot licence. Those were some of the most important and meaningful moments in my life and I couldn’t think of a better place to start the rest of my life with the man who had become my best friend and my favorite co-pilot.
Our wedding was held in the EAA hangar. It was raining, cold, and ceilings were at 200 feet. There went my grand plans on flying in! But nothing was going to ruin the day cause I was getting married to a man I had waited over 30 years to find. Both my mother and my mother-in-lawÂ were mortified that I was taxiing “down the aisle”. My mother-in-law had hand-made my dress from scratch and she was afraid I was going to ruin it. My mom said I was going to wrinkle it and look “frumpy” as she put it. I didn’t care. I was going to arrive in style in an airplane and that meant more to me than a few wrinkles or grease spots.
I had to get help from the airport manager and a CFI to load my dress into the little 152 that I took my first solo flight in. I have never seen two men look more uncomfortable! I joked with them saying, “Guys, com on, I’m just another pilot except I happen to have a whole lot of dress that needs shoving in the plane here!”
I told the photographer to hop in with me since I wasn’t about to make her walk back in the rain. She gave me a huge grin and jumped in. We laughed as I took a picture of her in the plane with me. She commented on how amazed she was on my calm manner with all the complications we had so far. I just smiled and told her that as long as I was in an airplane than everything always seemed manageable.
From what the guests told me later, many had been joking about me flying or taxiing in. Then just before the ceremony they heard an engine roar to life and the unmistakable sound of a single engine airplane approaching. Yep, it was me. I taxied down the aisle and it was awesome. The rest of the day went off without a hitch. The ceremony was wonderful. We made our vows which included a promise to always share the left seat. Everyone loved the balsa-wood airplanes we had as favors. My garter had airplanes on it and I had two bobby pins in my hair that had propellers on them. Our colors were silver and blue because they reminded me of the sky.
I’ve been married almost a year and a half now and I’m still crazy in love with my husband. We’re building a new house and hope to start our own family soon. He supports my love of flying and hopefully we’ll have our own taildragger completed soon after the house is done. He’s perfect for me and there’s no one I’d rather share the left seat with than him.