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Islip pilot proposes 1,500 feet above Hudson

Pilot Mike Nelson, 22, of Islip, proposed to

Pilot Mike Nelson, 22, of Islip, proposed to Jessica Rispoli, a 26-year-old wedding photographer from Lake Grove, on his Cessna Skyhawk 1,500 feet above the Hudson River. She said, "Yes!" (Aug. 20, 2013) (Credit: YouTube)

When Jessica Rispoli, a 26-year-old wedding photographer from Lake Grove, got onto the Cessna Skyhawk for a flight around the Hudson River with her boyfriend, Mike Nelson, 22, the plane’s pilot, she knew it wasn’t an ordinary flight. Nelson’s GoPro camera mounted on the dashboard raised some suspicions.

“He said the camera was to capture our expressions taking off, but we had flown a million times before,” Rispoli said. “I had a feeling it was something else, but I wasn’t sure.”

In the middle of the flight, Nelson, who is a flight instructor at Long Island MacArthur Airport, asked Rispoli to read off a checklist for his autopilot. Rispoli reached into a pouch below the dashboard and pulled out a list. A smile crossed her face as she read the list aloud, with the final item, “Will you marry me?”

Bursting into tears of joy, Rispoli pulled out a white box containing a diamond engagement ring.

She said, “Yes!”

When Nelson and his new fiancé touched down at MacArthur, they were greeted by a salute from members of the MacArthur Airport Fire Department,Nelson is a volunteer EMT at the Islip Fire Department.


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“It was tough, it wasn’t your average proposal,” Nelson said in a cellphone call on Tuesday as the couple headed upstate on vacation. “I still had the plane to worry about.”

The couple is considering a wedding within the upcoming year, with Block Island as a possible location.

“I always knew it was going to happen, I always knew he was the one,” Rispoli said. “I just didn’t know it was going to be yesterday.”

A YouTube video of the proposal, posted by Nelson on Monday, received about 920 views as of Tuesday afternoon.

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