A loved-up couple got their engagement off to a flying start as they proved they were head over heels for each other.
Justin Newby and Karen Henderson, from of Makendon Street, Hebburn, took part in a skydive at the Peterlee Parachute Drop Zone, at Shotton Airfield, Shotton Colliery, on Sunday.
But little did Karen, 40, know that the jump would just be the start of the drama.
After she landed, Justin, also 40, got down on one knee to pop the question – which she gleefully accepted.
Justin said: “I met Karen three years ago, and soon after meeting her, I said I wanted to do a skydive.
“I’d done about eight bungee jumps, but really wanted to try this as well.
She was overwhelmed. She cried all the way home with happiness, because it was an emotional dayJustin Newby
“Because we had just met and I think she wanted to impress me at the time, she said she would do it with me when the time came.
“Three years later, it got down to the nitty-gritty and she still went ahead with it. It was initially for my 40th birthday.
“I thought ‘She’s the one for me’, and decided I’d pop the question.
“She was overwhelmed. She cried all the way home with happiness, because it was an emotional day.”
Keeping the surprise under wraps was quite a challenge for Justin.
Excited family members who knew about his plan also wanted to witness the occasion, and Karen, a care home worker, initially became suspicious when a host of them said they were going to Peterlee to watch her skydive.
On her way to the ground, she also noticed a bedsheet with the words ‘Karen will you marry me?’ written on it, but believed it was intended for someone else. It had, in fact, been prepared by Justin.
The Nissan worker added: “It was hard to keep it a surprise from Karen, because the whole family knew.
“Everyone wanted to know the time and date of the skydive, which Karen got a little bit suspicious of at first. She wanted to know why everyone was coming to watch.
“I got away with it. When she went up, she knew that some proposals were planned for others who were skydiving, but she still didn’t think it would be us.
“She couldn’t believe it when she realised one of them was us.”
The pair each have a daughter from previous relationships, and are now hoping to marry in about two years’ time.
They were one of two skydive couples who got engaged at Peterlee on the day.