Aviation executive William J. McShane of Babylon died at the...

Aviation executive William J. McShane of Babylon died at the age of 61 on May 12. Credit: McShane family

While growing up in Deer Park, Bill McShane had the natural ability to focus laserlike on long and short-term goals — a philosophy that allowed the Long Island native to accomplish whatever he set out to do.

McShane’s drive to succeed would propel him from his first post as an airplane mechanic to the president of Long Island Jet Center who helped bring the Bethpage Air Show to Jones Beach, a beloved spring pastime on Long Island that draws hundreds of thousands of people each year.

McShane, who had a 37-year career in aviation that included that presidency and a term as vice president of business development and special projects for Sheltair Aviation, died of glioblastoma, a form of cancer, at his Babylon home on May 12.

He was 61.

“Bill was a dedicated and loving father, an inspirational role model, and a generous mentor and a friend to anyone he met,” said MaryEllen McShane, his wife of 33 years. “It’s clear in his passing that he made a lasting impact on everyone who had the pleasure of knowing him — friends, family, co-workers, colleagues and neighbors. He gave so much of himself to the people he loved.”

William McShane was born in Oceanside on May 4, 1959, to William A. McShane, a salesman and employee of the Suffolk County Board of Elections, and Anne J. McShane, a special-education teacher who became a prominent political activist for Suffolk Democrats.

He graduated from Deer Park High School in 1979 and, in 1983, he graduated summa cum laude from the Academy of Aviation, which is now Vaughn College of Aeronautics and Technology in East Elmhurst.

It was there that he would earn his Federal Aviation Administration aviation mechanic’s license and begin a career in aviation.

“Bill wanted to be an airplane mechanic working for a major airline and pursued that career path in college,” MaryEllen McShane said. “He started his aviation career as a line service technician at Long Island Jet Center at MacArthur Airport and worked his way up over the course of his career to becoming president of the company, which was eventually sold to Sheltair Aviation.”

Along the way, McShane would marry MaryEllen (Weiden) in July 1986 at St. Kilian Church in Farmingdale.

McShane had so impressive a career in aviation that the National Business Aviation Association honored him in 2014 with the NBAA Silk Scarf Award for his contributions to the industry.

He also helped get the New York State Legislature to enact the Aviation Jobs Act, which helped to create permanent, high quality aviation jobs benefiting middle and lower income families. But one of his most prominent successes was bringing the Bethpage Air Show, a popular Memorial Day Weekend event, to Jones Beach 15 years ago.

When he wasn’t working, McShane enjoyed family time, being goofy, enjoying a good laugh, indulging his love for music, and boating on Great South Bay.

“My dad had an unteachable sense of curiosity and a profound ability to connect with others,” his daughter Megan McShane of Burbank, California, said. “He had an enthusiastic love of life, and a genuine kind and caring spirit. His siblings would call him a ‘mad scientist’ when it came to inventing and building things from scratch that began early in his childhood. He had an incredibly focused work ethic and a deep love for his family and friends.”

McShane served as president of the New York Aviation Management Association (NYAMA), where he also served as a board member, and was a founding member, president and board member of the Long Island Business Aviation Association. He was also the founder and president of the Aerospace Education Corp., a nonprofit organization designed to promote aviation education.

“I miss his smile that lit up the room,” MaryEllen McShane said. “I miss talking with him. He had a way of naturally understanding others, of making people feel welcome as themselves, and a pure selflessness and desire to see others happy. Many people felt he was the life of the party and will miss his exuberance and enthusiasm.”

Besides his father, who lives in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, his wife and his daughter, McShane is survived by another daughter, Katharine McShane of Brooklyn; a son, William Thomas McShane of Babylon; a brother, Michael McShane of Rehoboth Beach; and two sisters, Rosemary McShane of New York City and Elizabeth Fonseca of Ellendale, Delaware.

There was a private burial service at St. Charles Cemetery in Farmingdale on May 20.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Bill McShane Memorial Aviation Scholarship, administered by NYAMA, to held fund the education of students planning to pursue careers in aviation.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to fund the Bill McShane Memorial Aviation Scholarship, which helps fund students’ education to pursue a career in aviation.

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