Romance in the alpine air

18:35, Dec 15 2013
bert strouken and elly van gompel
She said ja: Bert Strouken and Elly van Gompel celebrate their engagement, a minute after Mr Strouken proposed.

A Dutch couple were on cloud nine after a romantic flight over Mount Cook on Saturday.

Only minutes after touching down at Pukaki Airport, Bert Strouken went down on bended knee and asked his partner of five years, Elly van Gompel, to be his wife.

Before the proposal, the couple were taken on a flight in an open cockpit aircraft over the Southern Alps.

"He obviously wanted to do something memorable, something a bit special, and the flight on Saturday was in absolutely perfect conditions. It couldn't have been better for them," pilot Chris Rudge said.

Mr Strouken had planned the proposal for a helicopter ride a few days prior, but bad weather hampered his plans.

Just after touch down, Mr Rudge took the obligatory post-flight photographs. When he was finished, Mr Strouken asked him if he wouldn't mind taking a couple more.


Somewhat confused, Mr Rudge obliged, and then the reason behind the request became clear.

"Then the penny dropped. I started to photograph away. The couple were absolutely delighted. My Dutch isn't great, but I understood 'ja'."

Love was also in the air for Mr Rudge and his wife Tarn Jones, who own Red Cat Biplane Flights. They had just celebrated their own 19th wedding anniversary.

The Timaru Herald