By Barbara A. Schmitz
Holly Baldwin Scheibner said her husband, James, isn’t the most romantic guy. So that made the surprise even more unbelievable.
After more than 18 months of planning and without his wife’s knowledge, James successfully got Holly on the Ford Tri-Motor with family and friends, and she learned she was about to renew their wedding vows as they celebrate 25 years. The two were married on the Tri-Motor in 1996 by then EAA Chaplain Ed Riddick, who again officiated the latest ceremony.
“I was so surprised, ” Holly said. “He usually doesn’t do this type of thing. But it was so great, and very much out of his character. ”
The Hillsdale, Michigan, couple were married on August 1, the first day of the 1996 convention.
James said he kept the secret to himself for quite a while. But when he was certain the plan would go through, he started telling family and friends. Both said they were surprised that no one spilled the beans to Holly.
James said he first brought Holly to EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 28 years ago when they were dating, and they camped in the North 40. “When she didn’t want to leave after Day 3, I knew I had the one, ” he said. He said they learned they had a lot of similar interests during that first fly-in convention, and today both are pilots.
After the Tri-Motor flight, the newly rewedded couple took a ride throughout the AirVenture grounds in a car adorned with tin cans and a sign that read, “Just Married Again in the Tri-Motor. 25 Years. ”
On Tuesday night, they had the wedding reception they didn’t have 25 years ago, held at their campsite in the North 40. “We eloped the first time, so there was no reception, ” James said. This time, they were celebrating with friends from Michigan, their family, including children Joseph and Hanna, and all their Oshkosh friends.
Holly said she couldn’t have asked for a better anniversary. “I love surprises, aviation, and coming here … It was so fun. ”
James said he couldn’t thank enough all of the EAA staff and volunteers who made their wedding and anniversary so special.
“When I called with this crazy idea 25 years ago, they just ran with it and made it something special, ” he said. “Fast forward 25 years and it was the same thing. Everyone stepped up and made it a great experience. ”