Falling for you ... skydive marriage proposals taking off

Australian couple Chris Bartram and Belinda Salem get engaged after skydiving in Queenstown. Photo supplied.
Australian couple Chris Bartram and Belinda Salem get engaged after skydiving in Queenstown. Photo supplied.

After completing skydives, more and more visitors to Queenstown are taking away a fiancee with their souvenir photos.

Nzone's business development manager, Derek Melnick, estimates in the past year there has been a doubling of people choosing to propose as part of a skydive.

Some pop the question in the plane, some bring specially printed T-shirts asking their partner to marry them, some ask the question once safely on the ground and others design elaborate banners visible from the air.

On some of his jumps, skydive instructor Nick Dowling has carried the engagement ring in a pocket.

Mr Dowling said he had taken ''maybe five or six people on proposal jumps'' and with the rings holding so much significance and value, he admitted to being ''a little bit worried it [the ring] was going to come out''.

It was ''pretty cool'' to be part of the proposals, he said.

Last Tuesday, he took Australian man Chris Bartram (25) on a jump as part of Mr Bartram's proposal to girlfriend of three years Belinda Salem (23), who jumped with another instructor.

Mr Bartram had more than one triumph after the proposal. For one, she said yes, and his fear of heights was quelled by what he was about to ask.

''Usually, I'm scared of heights. I don't go on Ferris wheels or rides at amusement parks,'' Mr Bartram said.

''Because of the reason I was there ... I didn't really think of the fact I was jumping out of a plane. It kind of removed all the nerves.''

His new fiancee was impressed.

''To jump out of a plane for someone when you don't like heights - that's a pretty big deal,'' Ms Salem said.

The pair were due to jump on the previous Sunday but were not able to because of bad weather.

Between Sunday and their eventual jump on Tuesday, Mr Melnick and Mr Bartram were in regular contact, which Ms Salem thought was ''a little bit strange''.

''I just thought he [Mr Melnick] must have heaps of tourists who miss out on skydiving because of weather [but] now it makes sense.''

In fact, Mr Bartram had been in contact with Mr Melnick since January, after he saw skydiving feature on a travel blog and decided that was how he wanted to propose. The pair are from Canberra and left Queenstown vowing to return to the resort.

Mr Melnick said there was now about one skydive marriage proposal a month.

''It's quite rewarding for the staff,'' he said.

After last Tuesday's proposal, Mr Dowling said ''a lot of the staff were out there clapping and cheering them on''.

The next day, a couple from Singapore also got engaged.

Earlier this year, a same-sex couple from the United Kingdom became engaged after a skydive.

Mr Melnick said the resort had marketed itself well for marriage proposals, honeymoons and anniversaries, which contributed to the rise, but also ''people are looking for that edge [when proposing]''.

He said skydiving and asking to marry someone were things most people did once in their life, so it was perfect for couples.

Now Mr Bartram has conquered his fear of heights, he said he would like to do another skydive.

Hairy legs

Lol. Love it, haven't heard that saying for years. You may have been lucky she didn't throw you out the door first, Albert. I too was a big Raquel fan for many years but she was superseeded by the lovely Elle Macpherson who still holds a special place in me old heart.

Skydiving: the Raquel Welch years

Good news, you two. I did the same at Hood Aerodrome, 40 years gone now, and got a resounding 'Push off, hairy legs!' The fact that I didnt jump, and she did, had a lot to do with it.