As Valentine’s Day approaches, men around the globe are preparing to ask the most important question of their lives: Will you marry me?
And many who want to make the proposal unforgettable turn to the skies — and the seas.
Seaplane tour operations around the country report an uptick in proposal flights around this time of year, including the folks at Miami Seaplane Tours in Key Biscayne, Florida.
The good new is love is definitely in the air, according to pilot Tony Anderson.
“About 95% of the women say yes,” he reports. “But I can always tell if she’s hesitating because all of a sudden it becomes very quiet.”
At that point, he says he cuts the flight short to get the seaplane back on the ground.
“They’ve got more work to do,” he notes.
While many of the men propose in the plane, others plan elaborate events, Anderson reports.
One man from London spent three months preparing his proposal.
“He just kept making it more and more elaborate,” he remembers. “In the end we ended up flying them to one of the smaller islands, telling her they were going swimming.”
But once the seaplane pulled up on the beach, it was revealed that there were several chefs on the island preparing a seven-course meal. Then the chef’s assistant brings out a table and chairs, along with flowers and champagne.
“And while they are eating and drinking their champagne a little plane goes by with a banner that says ‘Jolene, will you marry me?’ Of course the answer was yes.”
Some men forgo the romantic route and aim for something a little more adrenaline filled.
Anderson recalls one couple from about seven years ago. The woman was a bit nervous about flying in a small aircraft, especially over the water.
“Some ladies have a heightened fear about it and sometimes we feed on that,” Anderson says. “So we actually simulated an engine failure. If that doesn’t get her heart pumping, nothing will, right?”
Once he got the seaplane down on the beach, he told the couple he was going to check “under the hood” to see what’s going on with the engine.
This was the cue for the man to jump out of the plane first.
“As I help her out of the plane, he’s on his knees with the wedding band, asking ‘will you marry me?’ She was very slow to get what was actually happening, but when she did it was real fun. It was an unforgettable moment.”
He admits some people are not up for something “that dramatic,” but luckily this woman took it all in stride, posting the whole story on her Facebook.
Making each proposal unique to each couple is important to the seaplane’s operation.
“We have several variations on the theme,” Anderson said. “We work with our clients to get something within their budget, and also something that is specific to the people involved.”
Many times when the couple show up for their flight, the woman has an inkling something big is in the works.
“Women are very intuitive,” he said. “They know their man well enough to know when he’s up to something.”
For the most part they are good sports and go along with the whole “surprise,” he reports.
Many women, however, have no clue.
A lot of them think it’s just their man finally picking up on the hint that a seaplane tour is something she’d like to do.
“A lot of the women tell us ‘do you know how many times we’ve seen you flying while we’re having lunch or dinner and I tell him ‘we really have to try that,’” he reports.
So the women are happy their boyfriend finally listened and did something they wanted.
“And the guys think, ‘Well even if she says ‘no,’ well, hell I got a good ride out of it,” Anderson said with a laugh.
It’s not uncommon for the man to be very nervous before the flight.
“We always try to take attention away from that,” he says.
That includes the preflight briefing where the pilots tell the passengers about the seat belts and how to put on the life vest, he reports.
“I get them distracted. That’s the name of the game, engaging your guests, making them have a really memorable experience,” he said. “That’s why it wins.”
The company is offering a Valentine’s Day special, not just for proposals, but for all couples. Along with the flight, there’s dinner, a bouquet of a dozen roses, and more.
“We’re trying to make it appealing to guys as a one-stop shop for the holiday,” he said.
Business is good at the company, so much so that it is looking for more pilots to fly its fleet of Cessna 172s and a deHavilland Beaver.
“Ideally we are looking for someone with 1,000 hours total time,” he said, noting they could help with the seaplane rating.
Anderson also said they’d be willing to consider a pilot with 500 hours. “We can use him in the flight school area as we teach him what we do,” he said.
Interested pilots should realize that being a seaplane pilot is a very physical job, so they must be fit and like to be outdoors doing something different every day, he added.
Ultimately, however, they are looking for someone who is able to constantly improvise, as well as make good decisions.
“It is incumbent on our pilots to be able to make good decisions,” he said. “There’s no controller and there’s always a new environment. They could be dealing with a sunken vessel or debris from Hurricane Irma.”