Their heads were in the clouds, and she never saw it coming.
Austin Gause took his girlfriend of two years, Shelli Whitlock, on a ride to remember above the Charleston harbor Monday afternoon.
Gause, a 26-year-old member of the U.S. Air Force Reserve, was piloting a rented plane and had Whitlock read over the flight “engagement checklist.”
Rudder pressure – checked.
Flight controls – checked.
Enroute ring – acquired. (Do you see where this is going?)
Long story short: He popped the question. She said yes.
“I was really confident up until the time it was actually time to do it,” Gause said. “I thought my heart was going to jump out of my chest.”
Gause said he had planned to wait until later in the flight, when the sun had set a little to provide a more romantic light, to ask Whitlock to marry him. But he just couldn’t wait.
Whitlock was so excited she couldn’t stop giggling, Gause said.
Gause said he can’t take credit for the original idea of an in-flight proposal. He had seen a similar proposal on the Internet years ago, before he and Whitlock even met, “and I said I would keep it in my bag of tricks,” he said.
The couple met in March 2014 in downtown Charleston after Gause had just completed his Air Force training. He’s currently awaiting dates for his upcoming pilot training with the Air Force.
She, from Marietta, Ga., does marketing for a Charleston nonprofit. He, who grew up near Blythewood, flies missions “all around the world” for the Air Force.
“She’s been sticking with me through the missions and days of not knowing where I’m at,” Gause said. “She’s my biggest cheerleader. I’m really thankful for her.”
Reach Ellis at (803) 771-8307.