WASHINGTON – Aaron Silverman knew he had to have the perfect proposal for his girlfriend, Brie Hotz. But the 26-year-old rookie pilot also knew his idea of faking an emergency landing was a risk.
Silverman, of Derwood, Md., insists it was a risk of the heart, not one of safety.
“I was risking her hating me. The whole thing was normal maneuvers. Everyone was like, ‘Wow that’s so dangerous.’ The whole proposal was by the book, landings and go-rounds,” he says.
Silverman says everyone he consulted before proposing to his girlfriend of two years tried to dissuade him. His parents hated the idea.
“They said, ‘You don’t want to start off your engagement by giving your girlfriend a heart attack,'” Silverman recalls.
Defying friends and family, Silverman took Hotz in a Cessna 172 toward the grass field of Hoby Wolf Airport in Eldersburg, Md. on Feb. 26.
He set up his plan ahead of time with the airport manager, who allowed him to place the 5-by-8-foot red signs announcing his proposal on the field.
“The first step in landing is you reduce your engine power,” Silverman says.
“As soon as I got to the point where I had to do that step, I said, ‘Uh oh, it’s probably not a big deal, but the plane is being a little weird right now.'”
As his fiancee was under the impression the engine was losing power, Silverman asked her to search the field for debris that might get in the way of an “emergency” landing. He says he was in control of the plane the entire time, following safe protocol.
“I wasn’t risking our lives for a proposal.”
As they passed, the sign read: “Brie, will you marry me?”
The plane went silent, and Silverman says he wasn’t sure Hotz even saw the sign until she responded…
“Of course I’ll marry you!”
When they returned to a normal flying altitude, Silverman pulled out the ring.
“I couldn’t get down on one knee because I was flying the plane,” he says. “But I did turn the plane a little bit so my seat was lower than her seat. That was the best I could do.”