Last night I got the call from my brother. Our first cousin, John Ellenberg, had been killed in a plane crash in Alaska on Friday. John was 74. He was flying with his fiance, Laurie Buckner, who was also killed in the crash. Here’s a link to the news report from one of the local television stations. A third person piloting the plane was also killed.
John was an entrepreneur, but was first and foremost an avid pilot. His background was in chemical engineering, so he hit it off with Laura. John was also an airplane broker buying and selling planes. I had the privilege of flying with him on several occasions.
I really didn’t get to know John until I was an adult. John got to be very close with the Taylor side of the family. We considered him another brother, and he often came to our various family events.
John had one daughter, Michele, and two grandkids. His loss is tragic and shocking. I could keep on recounting fun times we had, but right now I’m just trying to cope with his leaving us so suddenly.
John’s favorite poem was “High Flight” by John Gillespie Magee. Reagan read this poem after the Challenger disaster, and I think it’s especially appropriate here.
High Flight by John Magee
Oh, I have slipped the surly bonds of earth,
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunwards I’ve climbed and joined the tumbling mirth
Of sun-split clouds – and done a thousand things
You have not dreamed of – wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence. Hovering there,
I’ve chased the shouting wind along and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air,
Up, up the long delirious burning blue
I’ve topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace,
Where never lark, or even eagle, flew;
And, while with silent, lifting mind I’ve trod
The high untrespassed sanctity of space,
Put out my hand, and touched the face of god.
Goodbye, Cousin John. I trust you are soaring to even greater heights.