Thirty years ago, Springhill landscaper Karen Ellis took a tour around Lancaster, Pa., in a small-craft airplane. When it was over, she told her husband, “Someday, I’m going to learn how to fly a plane.”
To achieve this, Ellis, 57, has taken dozens of flights around Erie in the past two years. But in the fall of 2013, she took one that was particularly meaningful to her. (Watch Flight Brings Back Cherished Memories from WJET 24 News.) On that day, Ellis was accompanied by 89-year-old Springhill resident Barbara Omark, whose husband, World War II pilot Warren Omark, received the Navy Cross for his daring attack that sank the Japanese carrier Hiyo during the Battle of the Philippine Sea.
Now deceased, Warren belonged to an air club years ago and he and Barbara would go up together sometimes. “I’ve missed it,” Barbara Omark said.
Ellis and Barbara Omark developed a friendship when Ellis offered to construct a birdhouse for the couple’s Garden Home. “I knew Mr. Omark and his war record, and Barbara would always ask me how my lessons were coming,” Ellis says. “I asked her if she’d like to go up with me someday. I knew she’d say ‘yes’, and I thought this would be a nice way to honor Mr. Omark’s memory.”
On the morning of October 2, Ellis and Barbara Omark took off from Erie International Airport, taking an hour-long flight that included in aerial views of Springhill, Presque Isle State Park, downtown Erie and creative corn mazes in the area.
“Warren would be so excited for me,” Barbara Omark said prior to the flight. “He loved flying, and hopefully, he’s flying wherever he wants to now.”