Taking love to new heights

Love in the air over Freeling


Love was well and truly in the air at the weekend when James Kelly made the grand gesture and proposed to his girlfriend of two years, Emily Hempel, in a helicopter as the sun set over Shanahan’s farm in Freeling.


Love was well and truly in the air at the weekend when James Kelly made the grand gesture and proposed to his girlfriend of two years, Emily Hempel, in a helicopter as the sun set over Shanahan’s farm in Freeling.

For James, the moment was a long time coming, having known he was onto a good thing since their first date, when he subtlety let his mother know via text that he was getting married.

For Emily, the day started out less then ideal. 

Due to start an early nursing shift in Tanunda, she jumped into her car at 5.45am and when it refused to start, James was enlisted as chauffeur. 

“I disconnected her battery and she came running in and said, ‘My car won’t start will you take me to work?’ –  so that part was easy,” James said.

While Emily was at work, James spent the day preparing his masterpiece, rolling out a few rolls of black plastic and getting to work with white ceiling paint and a roller.

He and some mates battled the wind and proceeded to write out the message ‘will you marry me Emily’ which spanned 50 metres.

“We did most of it by eye and stamping it out with our feet and it turned out pretty well,” he said.

To ensure it was obvious from the air, he then bordered it with close to 50 hay bales.

With everything in place, James’ mum was organised to pick Emily up from work and bring her out to the helicopter. 

“I thought it was a little unusual as he had picked out a change of clothes for me as well and when we arrived at the helicopter, I had a pretty good idea something was up as he isn’t too keen on heights so there was no way he’d get into a helicopter unless there was a good reason,” Emily said. 

“We went over the Barossa then to the Shanahan farm, which was really cool as that was where we had our first proper date.

“I couldn’t miss it, it was beautiful –  really nice surprise.”

The proposal started to take shape last year when a trip to New Zealand presented the perfect moment.

”We went up in a helicopter on top of the glaciers in New Zealand and when we were up there all I could think of was this would be a perfect spot,” James said.

“Obviously it was pretty soon to be doing anything like so that's why when I thought I’d actually do it, I thought back to the helicopter.”

Emily and James have been together for two years and Emily made her own grand gesture of love when she moved from Carrickalinga after completing her nursing degree to settle in the Barossa with James.

“We met through mutual friends and I thought I’d move up here for love and it’s worked out well for me,” she said.

For James, Emily just has that special something.

“I’d seen her once before and thought she was way too good for me and when I saw her again about a week later and I thought I might as well say g'day and we got to talking and here we are,” he said.

Friends, family and strangers have been excited by the news with the story gaining a lot of unexpected media attention.

“I couldn't believe it,” James said.

“I woke up yesterday morning and SAFM had messaged me on Facebook and 5AA … it was crazy.”

“We were shocked and really flattered that people have been so excited for us,” Emily added.

As for when the wedding will take place, the couple has established a pretty good pattern.

They became an official couple on the 8/8/16 were engaged on the 9/9/18 so it seems only serendipitous that the wedding should be the 10/10/20 – easy for the memory at least.


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