It’s safe to say that most people are nervous when they’re about to propose, and Air Force Capt. Stuart Shippee was no exception this past August. Of course, as a B-2 Spirit (stealth bomber) pilot, it takes a bit more to rattle Shippee’s nerves.
When the time came to pop the question to his girlfriend, Marie Lisman, Shippee really upped the stakes–by using a weather balloon to take his proposal higher than even his B-2 could ever fly. Off duty, Shippee’s has been experimenting with weather balloons as a hobby for some time.
“I would send them as high as I could in a container before the weather balloon popped, then let them come down and retrieve them using a global positioning system, all while recording their height,” Shippee told Military.com’s Oriana Pawlyk. “Between my air engineering degree and my pilot training, I had to rely heavily on them both to pull this off.”
As he, some friends, and Lisman made their way out to some corn fields in Missouri, he told the group that his goal was to send a military challenge coin into the upper atmosphere, but as the video shows, he quickly swapped the coin out for a (decoy) engagement ring.
“While I inflated the balloon, my hands were just trembling because I was so overwhelmed by it all,” he said.
The ring made it’s way to 96,000 feet up, according to the video, which is only about a third of the way to the Kármán Line (the generally accepted barrier where “space” begins), but it’s still about three times as high as your average commercial airline would fly, and is plenty high enough to disprove your crazy uncle’s flat earth theories, as the video shows.
“If anything went wrong, the whole thing would fail,” Shippee recalled.
Once the balloon reached its peak height, it burst, sending both the remnants of the balloon and Shippee’s decoy ring plummeting to the ground. From there, it was just a matter of finding the the balloon and package using its attached GPS transponder. The search proved tough, but the couple eventually found the balloon in a nearby corn field.
Shippee hung back, allowing Lisman to be the first to pick up what she thought would be a challenge coin. Instead, she found the decoy ring, and as she looked up, she found something even more romantic: Shippee on one knee, ready to propose with the real diamond engagement ring.
“When I first picked up the balloon payload, I did not see the imitation ring until I looked down and [Shippee] was on his knee,” Lisman said. “I was speechless! After the long day and difficult search for the payload I was very happy to have the ending be so special.”
You can watch the video below:
Feature photo courtesy of Capt. Stuart Shippee via YouTube