Friends Remember Pilot’s Love of Flying

Jon Dollard
Jon Dollard

Friends remembered Jon Kenneth Dollard this week for being an all-around good guy who loved to fly and loved his home in the Hamptons.

The 47-year-old Hampton Bays resident was a commercial pilot since 2012, having worked his way up the ladder in the aviation industry, earning his wings and achieving various certifications while waiting tables and bartending in local restaurants.

A graduate of Shoreham Wading River High School, Dollard died June 2 when the plane he was piloting for Ben and Bonnie Krupinski went down, killing four people during a squall off the coast of Indian Wells Beach in Amagansett. His is one of two sets of remains authorities have either not identified or recovered. A third set of remains were recovered along with debris from the plane on Friday, June 8. As of this paper’s deadline, the victim’s identify has not been released.

“I think people were drawn to him, which makes it even harder when you are missing someone under these circumstances,” said Christopher OKunewicz of Southampton. A long-time friend of Dollard, OKunewicz recalled him as a storyteller who would regale listeners with his tales from the cockpit while pouring drinks behind the bar at World Pie in Bridgehampton.

“He had great stories to tell,” OKunewicz said, who last saw Dollard about three weeks ago.

OKunewicz got to know Dollard better over the last 10 years through his brother, Rob, also a pilot, who flew a similar style of plane, a Bonanza, and would often “check off” or complete a safety check for him at East Hampton Airport. Since then, OKunewicz saw Dollard “out and about around town” for 20 years, often taking note of how much he loved his job working for the Krupinskis.

“He loved flying and he loved aviation,” he said.

Dollard was well known in the pilot community, whether recreational or commercial, and many pilots gathered together at the airport in the hours after the crash to mark the loss, according to OKunewicz. “I think that when a catastrophe happens, everyone wants to bond,” he said.

Over the weekend, on Saturday, one week from the day the Piper Navajo PA-31 Dollard was flying went down, a group of pilots performed a missing man formation over Indian Wells Beach, OKunewicz said.

“A lot of people are going to miss him, that’s for sure,” added OKunewicz.

Fellow pilot Brian Ljungvist of Ridge first met Dollard about 15 years ago when he was in high school and learning to fly in his spare time at Mid-Island Air Service at Brookhaven Calabro Airport in Shirley. Dollard was Ljungvist’s flight instructor and never lost touch with him, later hooking the younger pilot up with assignment opportunities out on the East End that he could have potentially taken for himself.

Ljungvist remembered “there was nothing fake” about Dollard.

“Honestly, there are people in the business you meet, and a lot of people that try to smile at you but are not people who you want to keep in your life, but Jon was a nice guy,” he added.

If Jon smiled at someone, he meant it.

Dollard would often meet Ljungvist over at Oakland’s Marina in Hampton Bays, where he is a member of the Shinnecock and Marlin Tuna Club, for a drink and a chat.

Ljungvist remembered Dollard as a great lover of the Hamptons and an avid surfer.

“He was such a ‘bro.’ Yeah, sad. He didn’t deserve to go like this,” he added.

Dollard is survived by his parents, Ken and Jean Dollard, wife, Ana, and brothers Christopher, Todd, and Jason.

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