On Time Wedding Arrival … Barely

Published 9:00 pm Thursday, April 22, 2010

Corey Hickman may be fighting off a roaring case of jet lag athis wedding Saturday in Jackson, but at least he’ll be there.

Through no fault of his own, he’s cutting it mighty close.

The 24-year-old international oilman has been stranded in Europefor a week, unable to get back to Mississippi to be with hisbride-to-be on the eve of their marriage because the recenteruptions of Eyjafjallajokull, a volcano in Iceland, have groundedflights around the continent. Hickman was finally able to get on aplane Wednesday and will spend most of Thursday in the air on hisway back to the U.S. and into the arms of a nervous Ashley Hatcher,24.

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

“He’s slowly but surely making his way home. He had to go all theway around the world practically, but he’s on his way now,” saidHatcher.

Hatcher and Hickman are 2004 Brookhaven High School graduates. Sheis working as a nurse at University of Mississippi Medical Centerin Jackson.

Hickman’s normal flights through Amsterdam or Paris were scrubbedbecause of the volcano’s continent-sized ash plume, which driftedstraight down across Europe and closed airports everywherebeginning April 14. Particles in the plume can cause severe damageto jet engines.

Hatcher said she first learned her fiancé would be late coming homeSunday when he sent her a message that all the flights were closed.Coming off a long shift at UMC and not having turned on the TV tosee the news, she had no idea that all flights in Europe had beengrounded.

When the news came, Hatcher cried.

A friend tried to suggest the lovers get married through anInternet video conference between Jackson and Europe – someone hadseen it done on TV. Hatcher did not see the humor in thatidea.

“I knew his normal route to get home, and I was trying to figureout any way he could get around it,” she said. “I was the onefalling apart, but he was very confident. He said, ‘Don’t worry,they’re already trying to figure something out.'”

With the wedding quickly approaching on the other side of theworld, Hickman’s bosses at Weatherford came to his rescue Tuesday,arranging a laborious flight schedule that would go the long way toget the groom home.

He flew to Kiev, Ukraine, and from there hopped aboard a flight toMoscow, Russia. From Moscow, Hickman flew down to Dubai in theUnited Arab Emirates.

Long before dawn Thursday morning, he boarded a flight from Dubaito Houston, Texas, and from there he’ll fly on into Jackson. He’sexpected to be on the ground in Jackson around 8:30 p.m.Thursday.

By the time Hickman gets home, he’ll have spent close to three daysin the air and will have flown more than 11,000 miles. He’ll haveone day to recover from the jet lag.

“As long as he’s standing at the end of the aisle when I walk down,I’m happy,” Hatcher said. “He might have big bags under his eyes,but at least he’ll be there.

“I’m supposed to have an outdoor wedding and it’s supposed to rainSaturday, but I can deal with that,” she continued. “As long asCorey will be there.”