John D. Kelly, founder of Shoreline Aviation, passed away peacefully at his home on June 27 surrounded by his wife, Andrea Collingwood, sons Jeremy Collingwood (and wife Lauren) and Andrew Kelly, and his sister Patricia Kelly. He also leaves two step-grandchildren, Damien and Cody.
In 1980, Kelly founded Shoreline Aviation, Inc. at Griswold Airport in Madison, CT. The company operates amphibious seaplanes and is now based at Tweed New Haven Airport, but was also known for its flights to the Hamptons.
Over the course of four decades, Kelly trained more than 1000 pilots who are now flying a variety of aircraft around the world. He was a legend in the seaplane community and spent many years flying between the 23rd Street Seaplane Base on the East River in New York City (one of the most complex and congested air spaces) to resorts and islands throughout the northeast. In the 1990s, Kelly originated the tremendously popular summer commuter flights between Manhattan and the Hamptons.
Born in Tucson, AZ, he was raised in Boston and attended Boston Latin School before receiving full music scholarships to Curtis Institute of Music and then the New England Conservatory, where he earned his master’s degree. After years in the music industry, he learned to fly so he could get to performances throughout the northeast. Shortly thereafter, he changed careers.
As a lifelong learner, Kelly obtained another master’s degree in environmental science at SCSU and worked on his doctorate at Antioch University. He served for several years on the board of directors for the National Air Transportation Association. Kelly was a world traveler, gifted raconteur, exceptional cook, and a certified scuba instructor. In recent years, he enjoyed spending time with family and friends at his retirement home on the Dingle Peninsula in Ireland.
A celebration of life will be held for Kelly at the Shoreline Aviation Hangar at Tweed New Haven Airport on Saturday, July 27. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to a memorial scholarship fund which is being set up in his name to benefit women and low-income students seeking degrees in aviation studies. Details will be available at the memorial service.