Milestone marriage in the sky for local woman - Republic-Times | News

Milestone marriage in the sky for local woman

By on January 10, 2018 at 12:06 pm

“As one life ends, another begins.”

Delta Air Lines flight attendant Holly Rick of Waterloo and pilot Gene Peterson united in marriage on board the airline’s final 747 passenger flight last Wednesday.

Rick, a 1982 graduate of Gibault Catholic High School, first met Peterson on the upper deck of a 747-400 flying U.S. troops to Kuwait in 2009.

“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,” Peterson explained in an article on

Rick and Peterson maintained a long-distance relationship as single parents living in different states since that special day nine years ago.

“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.”

Rick said her now-husband knew the flight director in charge of arranging the final 747 flight for Delta. He made plans for the couple to get married on that historic flight.

“We thought, ‘Hey, why not?'” Rick said.

The 747 is being phased out for lighter, more environmentally friendly and fuel efficient jets such as Boeing’s 757, 777 and 787. Boeing will continue to manufacture the 747 aircraft for cargo operators.

The plane’s farewell voyage last week traveled from Atlanta to Pinal Airpark in Arizona, which serves as a boneyard for civilian commercial aircraft.

“We were flying at 38,000 feet over Memphis when we said our vows,” Rick said. 

Rick explained that the overall experience was bittersweet, however, because it was hard to say goodbye to the 747.

“It’s always been my favorite plane, and it’s absolutely a love of Gene’s – he loves it like he loves me,” Rick said. “We’re so fortunate to able to give her a farewell with the memory of a lifetime. 

“It was meant to be.”

Rick began her career at Northwest Orient in 1985, becoming a Delta flight attendant when the airlines merged. 

Her love of flying began much earlier than that, however. Holly’s father, Herb Rick, worked on the ramp for TWA at Lambert Airport in St. Louis for more than 30 years. He passed away in 1996.

“I’ve been around aviation my whole life, so there’s always been a special feeling associated with flying,” she told the Republic-Times.

Peterson, a Minnesota native, began his career in 1977 with Braniff Airways, later joining Northwest Airlines and becoming a Delta pilot after the merger.

The newlyweds will make a home together in Peterson’s native Minnesota, and will continue their Delta careers based in Minneapolis.

Peterson is training at Delta’s headquarters to fly the 757 airliner. Rick plans to work on both the 757 and 777 airliners.

Holly’s son, Samuel, attends the University of St. Thomas in Minnesota.

“It’s a new beginning for all of us, so we’re pretty excited,” she said.

Corey Saathoff

Corey is the editor of the Republic-Times. He has worked at the newspaper since 2004, and currently resides in Columbia. He is also the principal singer-songwriter and plays guitar in St. Louis area country-rock band The Trophy Mules.