The Liberty Gazette
September 16, 2014Ely Air Lines
By Mike Ely and Linda Street-Ely
Mike: Last week we began to tell about CarolAnn Garratt and her around-the-world flights which she does to bring awareness to ALS and encourage donations for research for a cure.
While her 2008 flight was a world record breaker (around the world in eight and a half days), the third trip was for no such attempt, but to see the places she hadn’t seen before, and take time to talk with groups about ALS and the hope for a cure.
During her time in Europe, Berlin was an important stop for CarolAnn, seeing the place where the wall once separated and imprisoned people, its removal a sign of hope that today causes a mix of emotions. There would be further conflicts when she later visited two other places on her list.
Longing to visit Bethlehem, CarolAnn agreed to the terms and conditions which included strict rules about flying in to Israel and no personal flying without an Israeli pilot. In spite of the challenges she was glad she went. After seeing Jerusalem she thought it would be perfect to visit Bethlehem next, not knowing the mental difficulties she would experience from Jerusalem to Bethlehem, taking in the cold reality of human events, past and present.
"I had left Berlin earlier where the walls have been torn down only to come to a place where they are going up," she explained. We could hear her heart sink in her voice, as she explained that Bethlehem is in the "Palestinian" section, a wall separating it from the rest of Jerusalem. This reality left her with a heavy feeling.
For the most part, her trip was everything she hoped for. People were friendly and she was having an adventure of the grandest proportions. While still in Israel she met a local pilot who offered to fly with her from Haifa to the lowest airport in the world: Bar Yehuda Airfield in Masada, just west of the Dead Sea, about an hour and a half drive from Jerusalem. The airport’s elevation is 1,240 below sea level.
With so many highlights from this longer world trip, one really needs to read her latest book to get the whole story – Upon Silver Wings III – but there’s one highlight we can’t leave out.
CarolAnn purchased school supplies and chalkboards in Istanbul, Izmir and Cairo and flew them to Tulear, Madagascar where she delivered them to a group of nuns and doctors to take to an orphanage "at the end of the world" on the remote southern tip of Madagascar. With no airport near the orphanage she made plans to fly over it three days later. As she approached, she was not prepared for what would greet her from below. There outside the building were all the children, lined up in shaped rows, spelling "CAROL". In a call that evening to her contact at the orphanage she learned that there was not a dry eye on the ground. She also learned that the children had never seen an airplane before.
As CarolAnn made several passes overhead, rocking her wings, her heart deeply touched by the scene, their tears of gratitude flowed below because there was someone who cared about a place where no one else ever goes, about the people who have nowhere else to go but there.
She will be returning soon to bring more help as she continues to bring her message of hope Upon Silver Wings.