The Liberty Gazette
January 1, 2019Ely Air Lines
By Mike Ely and Linda Street-Ely
Linda: Trend-setting vacuum cleaner king, David Oreck, and his wife Jan were the subject of our stories the past couple of weeks. We’re sharing just a bit more on this aviation-loving couple, because Jan had more she wanted you to know.
For starters, she advises that, "If you make your local airport a destination, people will come. People of all ages look for things to do close to home – but especially older folks – where they feel welcome and included."
We and all others who have experienced the unique world of flying know this, that the health of an airport is directly tied to the health of a community. For instance, the Louisiana Regional airport hosts a "Second Saturday Fly-in" fish fry, and people from the area come, too.
And as Jan and others have pointed out, we need more young people in aviation. One thing that helps is when airports look and feel inviting. Barbed wire fences and signs that wreak of unwelcome don’t further the healthy goal. What if you were interested in a new adventure and were met with such a sight? So, take it from a remarkably self-made successful business man and the woman who has been at his side – airports are vital to a community’s well-being.
Jan was chatting with me from their Mississippi home on six hundred acres, with a one hundred-acre lake, where their hospitality is well known. David still has his fleet of airplanes, and he still goes to work every day in a building they own which used to be a federal reserve bank, built in 1923. David says it was built in honor of the year of his birth. That’s when Jan gives him "that look." Perhaps, it was forecasting his success.
She also shared this thought to ponder.
David had been in the military during World War II, serving as a navigator on B-29s. Many years later the Orecks received a call from a man named Mark who wanted to know more about his own father. He had learned his dad served with David, so he hoped for stories that would fill in the gaps about things he didn’t know. As Jan sat and listened, she considered the irony, the unknown, and all the twists and turns life takes. She heard David tell Mark of the dangers he faced navigating bombers in war.
There were many casualties aboard B-29s shot down. Survivors have wondered why them – when the odds are uncomfortably high, why did one guy make it home, and not another? "What if," as Jan has often contemplated, "their plane had gone down – the one David and Mark’s dad were on?"
The world would have been a different place. Thankfully, both survived the war so that today we have Oreck vacuums and we all enjoyed cheering for Olympic Gold Medalist swimmer Mark Spitz fifty years ago, because his dad and David made it through on a B-29.
One second can make a difference. So can one life. Here’s to a happy, prosperous 2019.