Aviation Industry Leader and Air Show Pioneer William J. McShane, Passes at 61

The Bill McShane Scholarship

William J. McShane of Babylon, a respected statewide aviation leader, who was instrumental in helping bring the Bethpage Air Show to Jones Beach over 15 years ago, has died at the age of 61 after a long illness.

Prior to his passing, Bill was Vice President of Business Development & Special Projects for Sheltair Aviation which provides general aviation services at the region’s major airports. His tenure was the capstone to a lifelong career in aviation that included serving as past president of the New York Aviation Management Association (NYAMA), where he remained a board member. For the last dozen years he applied his insight and expertise to positioning Sheltair as one of the most respected fixed base operators (FBOs) in the New York metro area and oversaw the approval and construction of their new multimillion dollar hangar complex at Republic Airport.

Bill was one of the founding members of Long Island Business Aviation Association as well as a past President and Board Member. He was the founder and President of the Aerospace Education Corporation, a Not-For-Profit organization that was created to promote aviation education. This organization hosted Aviation Career Fairs and offered ways to introduce students to the Aviation Industry. In 2014, he was awarded the NBAA Silk Scarf Award which is given to individuals for their special contributions to the business aviation community.

“Besides his family, Bill’s passion was aviation, especially the personal connections that came along with the job,” said Grant Sussey, NYAMA President. “He loved the challenge of navigating the state legislative process as well, and his tireless efforts led to the enactment of the ‘Aviation Jobs Act’ in New York. The Act ushered in a new wave of GA activity at airports in every region of the state.”

Community Respect

That decades-long effort demonstrated Bill’s ability to engage the surrounding community regarding Sheltair’s development plans, using candor, humor, and mutual respect to work with concerned area residents.

John Lisi, speaking on behalf of the Republic Airport Civic Coalition, said, “We are greatly saddened by the passing of a good friend, Bill McShane. Bill was the consummate gentlemen, a true professional who represented Sheltair Aviation well and maintained a very open relationship with the community members, always. His smile was infectious and his willingness to help in any way he could, will always be remembered. May he rest in peace.”

Babylon Town Supervisor Richard Schaffer, commented, “I have known Bill since I was a teen. His passing is a tragedy for his family, the Babylon Town community, and the aviation industry. There is not a person Bill met with during his time with us who did not take an immediate liking to this genuinely warm and giving human being.”

An Aviation Industry Leader

Long Island MacArthur Airport Commissioner Shelley Larose Arken, stated, “Bill was universally respected and admired throughout the state’s aviation community. He was always the ‘go to’ professional, whether it was dealing with public policy issues in Albany on behalf of NYAMA or assisting the Air National Guard at Republic during Superstorm Sandy. His passing has created enormous sadness throughout the aviation community.” 

Bill McShane Aviation Advocacy Day 2017

George Gorman, Long Island Director of the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, stated, “Bill was among the pioneers who ensured that the Bethpage Air Shows would not only come to Long Island but they would become a sustaining tradition. His enormous dedication and collegial teamwork ensured its success. Never taking credit, always there behind the scenes to work out last minute issues, Bill was an example of professionalism while being a mentor for countless people.” 

Leonel Rivera, Sheltair’s General Manager at Republic Airport, explained, “Bill and I worked together for nearly 25 years and his professionalism and personal integrity were the guiding light for many of us. You could not have had a better friend with a smile that lit up the room. When he danced at my wedding it revealed not just his enormous joy of life but his love for the people he worked with and how he made them part of a very large and caring family.”

An Adoring Family

He leaves behind his wife of 33 years, MaryEllen, children, Katharine McShane (Jesse Heasly), Megan McShane and William Thomas McShane.

His children observed, “Our Dad was aware of what mattered to him, and that awareness inspired joy in the people around him. He believed and often stated that ‘music is the center of the universe’ and we believe that passion for something bigger than himself guided who he was. He cared about everyone, often more than himself, and was not afraid to share it. He brought people together inside his excitement for life and it was infectious. Every time he put on his rollerskates and danced through the neighborhood he reminded us to enjoy each other and to be ourselves. 

“He also found peace on the bay, a place that was very special to him.”

“Anyone who knew him knew that Bill McShane loved building things from the ground up. This was his style of creativity and it found it’s way into everything he did – from life at the airport to raising his family.

“He loved to see other people happy and would want to see us together, celebrating everything we share. We hope all who knew him can take forward into their lives the lessons he taught us – to cherish and build your life around what’s uniquely valuable to you with the people you love.” 

He is survived by his father William A. McShane. His surviving siblings include Michael McShane, Rosemary McShane, and Elizabeth Fonseca.

In Memorial 

Burial arrangements are being arranged Claude R. Boyd–Spencer Funeral Home. Due to the pandemic there will only be a private viewing for immediate family with a private burial Wednesday May 20th at St. Charles Cemetery.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the Bill McShane Memorial Aviation Scholarship. Checks can be made payable to “NYAMA” and sent to: 230 Washington Avenue Extension Suite 101 Albany, NY 12203.


  1. Bill McShane – Mr.Bill, brother-in-law extraordinaire; Uncle Bill to his nieces and nephews; Gruncle Bill to his great-nieces and great-nephews; Most of all, loving husband of the love of his life, MaryEllen, and the loving father of Katie, Megan and Billy

    Bill leaves us with so many great memories of the time he shared with us as all of the above!

  2. The void Bill has left is enormous – he did more for aviation on Long Island than any other person I know. In all the years I have known Bill he was always “up, ” tireless, and patient. He made Advocacy Day in Albany fun. A friend to all who knew him and a devoted family man; may his family find comfort in the love he showed to all and may they know we all knew how much his family meant to him.


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