Yvonne McDaid and Sean Hasson who got engaged over a Donegal beach.
Twelve-foot high lettering on a Donegal beach has played its part in the high-flying engagement of a young couple.
Sean Hasson from Derry had the words ‘will you marry me’ written on Lisfannon beach on the shores of Lough Swilly just before he and his girlfriend Yvonne McDaid flew overhead at 1,000 feet in a light aircraft.
The plan had been hatched months earlier after Yvonne bought Sean an introductory flight experience at Eglinton Flying Club in Derry as a present.
The couple were being flown by commercial pilot Eugene McShane from Strabane when a fly-by of the beach revealed the letters, which had been written there by members of Sean's family.
Sean produced the engagement ring to a shocked Yvonne as the plane made another pass of the beach.
Yvonne accepted the proposal and the couple returned to City of Derry airport in the four-seater Piper Warrior III where members of the flying club had a bottle of champagne waiting for them.
Members of their families also made their way to the airport to greet them when they returned to earth.
Alistair Payne, one of the directors of the flying club, helped coordinate the plan which involved six weeks of preparation.
Tides and winds had to be considered before the audacious proposal could be attempted.
“We had been trying to do it for a week or so,” he told the Donegal Democrat. “Yvonne bought it in early December for a present and when Sean got it he came up with the idea. He rang me up and I said, ‘no problem, we can do it’. In thirty years I have never been involved in anything like that,” he said.
Sean’s family were involved in helping with a number of dry runs and it was established that 12ft lettering was required for the proposal to be visible from 1,000 ft.
It had been hoped to carry out the flight on St. Patrick’s Day but weather conditions did not suit.
When the day came the plane flew around Derry city and Sean texted his family from the air to say they were on the way.
The lettering could not be seen on the first pass but on the second fly-by Sean pointed out the life-changing words to Yvonne before producing the engagement ring.
A code word, Geronimo, had been arranged with the control tower so that those on the ground knew Sean’s plan had been successful and the bubbly was waiting for them when they touched down.
“It took a lot of work - it was not easy because you are trying to work with tides and winds,” Mr Payne said. “You can’t just go up in any winds. It was not just straightforward.
“They are a fantastic couple. They are as grounded a couple as you will meet. We have had couples get engaged in the air but in all my time in the club we have never had anyone writing it on a beach.”