For Delta flight attendant Holly R. and pilot Gene P., the 747 is more than the beloved Queen of the Skies. It was a matchmaker at 35,000 feet.
"We met nine years ago on the 747-400," Gene said. "Since then we've spent years flying this airplane together around the world. In a lot of ways we really grew up on the 747, so it's a fitting salute to say goodbye with this milestone. For us, it's really a way of showing that as one life ends, another one begins."The couple, who married on board Delta's final 747 passenger flight today, met on the upper deck of a 747-400 flying U.S. troops to Kuwait.
"We met at row 75," Holly said. "I will never forget that day, and just feel so blessed that we are able to take this awesome aircraft on its last flight."
Holly began her career at Northwest Orient in 1985, becoming a Delta flight attendant when the airlines merged. Gene began his career in 1977 with Braniff Airways, later joining Northwest Airlines and becoming a Delta pilot after the merger.
After their initial meeting, the two cultivated their relationship while flying on the 747 together. As single parents living in different states, the two kept their relationship long distance.
"Every month Gene and I would look at our schedules and bid on flights together and every once in a while we'd get to fly together," Holly said. "There were times where we wouldn't get on the same rotation and we'd be apart for a month and a half, but for us, it just worked."Nine years later, Holly and Gene decided to tie the knot. Knowing their love of aviation and the Queen of the Skies, Holly and Gene opted for a unique venue, getting married on Delta's final 747 passenger flight from Atlanta to the desert, where the plane will retire.
"I love this plane – it truly feels like home to me," Holly said. "I feel very fortunate that the 747 was based in Detroit. I was able to fly with the same crews and we really became a family. It's always been my favorite plane, and it's absolutely a love of Gene's – he loves it like he loves me. We're so fortunate to able to give her a farewell with the memory of a lifetime. It was meant to be."
After the two said "I do" alongside some of their closest friends and colleagues, they shared a champagne toast and cake.
"I am very sad to say goodbye to one of the most iconic airplanes that's ever been made, but we're thrilled and proud to have this lifelong memory of getting married on the last passenger 747 flight in the United States," Gene said.
The newlyweds will make a home together in Minnesota, and will continue their Delta careers based in Minneapolis.
See more images captured from the farewell flight here.