Marriage proposal relieves wingwalker’s fear

Published 12:00 am Monday, April 30, 2001

Sheryl Leventhal took a walk on the wing of a plane Friday in Natchez and soared into a whole new life.

As the plane hit the runway her boyfriend, Phillip Peterson, held up a sign asked her to marry him.

&uot;It was so startling it just took all the fear out of me about the wing walk itself,&uot; Leventhal said.

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After having what Leventhal described as an &uot;exhilarating&uot; and &uot;exciting&uot; experience the plane landed at the Natchez-Adams Airport and again Peterson asked her to marry him.

&uot;I nodded &uot;yes&uot; when we took off but I don’t think he saw it,&uot; Leventhal said.

The couple lives in Austin, Texas, but flew to Natchez this weekend because Gene Soucy, a pilot who performs with wing walker, Theresa Stokes, was in town for the second annual ABATE of Mississippi Airshow and Motorcycle Extravaganza.

Peterson said he had planned to propose for about six months in this way after he had heard Leventhal say she would like to try wing walking.

&uot;I just thought that would make a good story for her to tell,&uot; he said.

Peterson said he had asked Soucy several times to take Leventhal on a wing walk but he did not agree until hearing about the engagement plans.

Peterson was pretty sure Leventhal would not change her mind about the wing walk because they had been building up for it for five or six weeks.

&uot;The whole time before hand she was pretty scared (and) nervous,&uot; Peterson said.

But afterwards she looked at it as just a normal ride, he said.

With such an unusual engagement behind them, Leventhal said she expects their wedding to be &uot;pretty tame&uot; but Peterson is not so certain. He joked about trips to Antarctica or checking out shark infested waters.

&uot;We’re not sure yet,&uot; he said. &uot;We’ll come up with something.&uot;

Meanwhile, Leventhal has enjoyed telling people the story of her wing walking/engagement experience.

&uot;I’ve been telling people I went wing walking and got engaged in the same day and I don’t know which was scarier,&uot; she said.