It’s like a classic fairy tale:
Boy and girl eye each other on Twitter. They trade tweets about their favorite baseball team. Girl hopes boy comes to tailgate she’s hosting. Boy does. He asks girl to marry him in an airplane thousands of feet above baseball team’s stadium.
Jeff Donahoo’s proposal, worthy of a fellow Braves megafan like Nikki Hobus, is the first in SunTrust Park’s short history.
(Yes, smartypants, we KNOOOOW the proposal wasn’t technically inside the stadium, but in Georgia property owners also own the air above their land, so just work with us here.)
The tailgate where they met two years ago was at Turner Field, so Donahoo figured he had to do something to make the new stadium special to them, too.
He pulled off the surprise 48 hours after coming up with the idea. The 39-year-old was lucky the team was out of town because you can’t get your proposal on the big screen during games.
He’d gotten the ring Thursday, but the execution required steps most proposals usually don’t: a pilot, clearance to use Dobbins Air Reserve Base airspace, permission from a MLB team to use their new ballpark and getting the stadium’s graphics department to program the sign.
“I didn’t really have a backup plan,” he said. “This is the only way I wanted to do it.”
Donahoo works for an aviation company at DeKalb-Peachtree Airport and has had coworkers take the Acworth couple up for night flights a few times before. So that was the setup.
He asked other friends who work for the team if all this was possible. They obliged. As did the military base when he called.
So at 8 p.m. Tuesday, Hobus found herself sitting in front of her boyfriend inside a four-seat Cessna 172.
She realized they were flying near the new Braves stadium and saw something bright. It was the big screen at the stadium.
WILL YOU MARRY ME?
She gasped, Donahoo reached around from behind to show her the ring and she blurted out a yes.
When asked less than 16 hours after the flight if she was surprised, Hobus said: “I was completely shocked ... I didn’t even know what else to think ... I could not have asked for anything better.”
Hobus moved to metro Atlanta from her native Watkinsville a couple years ago to become youth minister at Kennesaw United Methodist Church.
She’s been on Twitter since February 2011 and a Braves fan her whole life. The 30-year-old often tweets about the team and has caught the attention of other fans.
“Nikki’s pretty popular on Braves Twitter,” Donahoo said.
And it shows. Her tweet about the proposal has raked in 100 replies, 50 retweets and more than 400 favorites.
They’re both season ticket holders. But when asked over the phone if Hobus was the bigger Braves fan, he chuckled and asked his now-fiance who then shouted, “oh, absolutely!”
The couple has different versions of what happened after the proposal while they were still in the air circling SunTrust.
She says: “I immediately said yes and then stared at the scoreboard for the rest of the [flight].”
But to him: “She just stared at her hand the rest of the flight.”
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