- The Washington Times - Sunday, February 13, 2005

Being head over heels in love is all in a day’s work for Jana Leigh, 38, of Hatfield, Penn., and Jim McWhorter, 57, of Centreville.

The two are performers with the Flying Circus Airshow in Bealeton, Va. — a weekly stunt show that will host the couple’s nuptials on June 5 in front of about 600 circus guests and fellow performers.

Even though the pair is accustomed to high-flying romance, the wedding will not take place in the air, Mr. McWhorter said.

“We had lots of ideas about how to get married, like doing it while wing walking,” he says. “But in Virginia, if the wedding isn’t conducted on terra firma, it doesn’t count.”

Integrating state and Federal Aviation Administration laws with wedding plans has been technically challenging.



“Timing is everything. We can’t have any dead space in the show because of FAA regulations,” Mr. McWhorter, a pilot, said. “There are also rules as to how close airplanes can be to the crowd.”

The couple plans to taxi an airplane, with Miss Leigh standing on top, before the crowd, as she would if she were performing her wing-walking act. Instead of taking off, though, both will disembark, recite their vows and leave as newlyweds under a barrage of confetti.

The romance began in May 2004 when Miss Leigh, after meeting Mr. McWhorter and visiting the show, decided she wanted to train and become a wing walker.

Wing walking atop a 450 horsepower Stearman airplane zipping around at 150 mph can be dangerous.

“It’s the ultimate roller coaster,” Miss Leigh said. “It’s not that it’s hard. You just can’t make a mistake. One slip and you are gone. There is no parachute and no tether line. It’s done for real and there is no second chance.”

Miss Leigh’s family has never seen her act. “My mom is my biggest critic,” she said. “She said she would only come to the wedding if I promised not to wing walk. So I promised.”

Mr. McWhorter has been flying since he was 34 and has worked at the circus for eight years.

The show is a second job for most of the performers. When not in Bealeton, Mr. McWhorter works for LEADS Corp. in Falls Church, and Miss Leigh is a nail technician at a day spa in Pennsylvania.

Miss Leigh plans to continue performing in the show as often as possible after the wedding, at least until the couple decide to have a baby, Mr. McWhorter said.

“She’ll perform for a year or so. But not when we are going to have a child,” he said. “That would drive the obstetrician nuts, wouldn’t it?”

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