New Jersey Aviation lost a legend on November 20th. Jack Elliott, author of “Adventures in Aviation” and the long-time Star-Ledger columnist (Wings Over Jersey) passed away this afternoon with his wife, Esta-Ann and family by his side. Jack kept his beloved Arrow at SMQ for many years, later at Alexandria. He was a tireless advocate for General Aviation in New Jersey and a great friend of Somerset Airport. We express our heartfelt condolences to Esta-Ann, Stephen, Amy and Hudson. We will miss you Jack!
Jack Elliott Schapiro, passed away on November 20, 2018 at the age of 94. Known professionally and in the aviation community by his pen name, Jack Elliott, he is best known for writing Wings Over Jersey, a column in New Jersey’s largest paper, the Newark Star-Ledger. Jack was a husband of 49 years to Esta-Ann, a father of two children – Amy and Stephen, and a grandfather to Hudson.
Wings Over Jersey appeared each Sunday for 38 ½ years, from June 9, 1963 through December 30, 2001. It is thought to be the longest running general aviation column in a mainstream publication ever. In 2008, he published a book entitled “Adventures in Flying,” which is a compilation of his most compelling columns.
Born in Bayonne, N.J. on January 23, 1924, to Anna and Sam Schapiro, Jack lived in Brooklyn before his family moved to New Jersey around the age of 5. He grew up in Bloomfield, N.J. and for the past 50 years, he resided in Warren Township, N.J.
Jack was a WWII veteran, having served in the United States Army 83rd Chemical Mortar Battalion in Africa, Italy, and France. He fought at Anzio, Italy – an amphibious assault in January 1944 conceived by Winston Churchill that was a precursor to the D-Day invasion at Normandy six months later. He was part of the liberation of Rome in June 1944 and then flew into Southern France in the back of a Waco CG-4 glider.
After returning from the war, he went to New York University on the GI Bill, and began his journalism career as a cub reporter at the Long Island Press before joining the Star-Ledger, working his way up to the position of Sunday Editor.
After leaving the Star-Ledger, Jack embarked on a career in aviation public relations while continuing to write Wings Over Jersey, as well as freelance articles. His articles appeared in several aviation publications such as AOPA Pilot, Air-List Ads, Airport Journals, Aviation International News, EAA Sport Aviation, Flying magazine, General Aviation News, Midwest Flyer, and Private Pilot magazine, among others.
Over the years he won numerous awards for his writing from national and local aviation associations (see list below) and in 1986, he was elected to the Aviation Hall of Fame of New Jersey.
Jack’s fascination with aviation began in 1933 when he took his first flight as a 9-year-old in an open cockpit New Standard biplane with his father and brother. He earned his private pilot’s certificate in 1954 and held a commercial pilot’s license with instrument, glider and single-engine seaplane ratings.
He owned three airplanes during his lifetime, two Stinson 108s and most notably a 1968 Piper Cherokee Arrow, which he purchased new from the factory in Vero Beach, Florida. His son, Stephen, now owns and flies the Arrow.
Jack had a love of travel and had the good fortune to visit many parts of the world with his wife Esta-Ann – Australia, New Zealand, China, Mexico, and many countries throughout Europe, the Middle East, and the Caribbean.
In lieu of food or flowers, or if you wish to honor Jack, the family has requested donations be made to either the Adler Aphasia Center or the Commemorative Air Force B-29/B-24 Squadron.
The Adler Aphasia Center is a non-profit organization committed to providing help for those living with aphasia and their caregivers and to expanding awareness and knowledge of aphasia. A stroke in 2011 left Jack with Aphasia and the Adler Aphasia Center provided Jack with speech therapy for several years and helped him regain his ability to speak. The Adler Aphasia Center also provided caregiver support for Esta-Ann.
The Commemorative Air Force is a non-profit that preserves WWII aircraft in flying condition to honor the men and women who built, maintained and flew these aircraft, and to educate future generations about their sacrifices and accomplishments. The squadron operates the B-29 FIFI and the B-24 Diamond Lil (which was based at Morristown Airport in the 1950s as a corporate aircraft, where Jack based his Stinson and Arrow for many years). Jack’s son Steve is a crew member on both bombers.
Adler Aphasia Center
760 Northfield Avenue
West Orange, NJ 07052
Or online at:
Click the red “Donate Now” button on the top right
In the “Message of Support” box, please write “In memory of Jack Elliott Schapiro”
Commemorative Air Force
Attn: Liz Vue
5661 Mariner Drive
Dallas, TX 75237
Or online at:
Under “How did you hear about us,” please click the button for “In memory of Jack Elliott Schapiro”
Jack was honored with awards from many national and local aviation organizations including, but not limited to:
Aviation Hall of Fame of New Jersey
- 1986 Induction
- 1993 Recognition of Wings Over Jersey 30th Anniversary
Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA)
- 1993 Presidential Citation
- 1999 Max Karant Award for Lifetime Excellence in Aviation Coverage
Air Force Association – Union/Morris Chapter – Man of the Year 1982
Aviation Advisory Council of New Jersey Award – 1975
Aviation Space Writers’ Association Writing Award – 1976 & 1977
Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)
- Teterboro District Merit Award, 1973
- New York District, 1993
- Wright Brothers Master Pilot Award for more than 50 years of safe flying
Mid-Atlantic Pilots Association – 1993
National Air Transportation Association – Journalism Award 1987
National Business Aircraft Association (NBAA) – 1974 & 1976
NJDOT, Division of Aeronautics – Certificate of Appreciation 1981
The Ninety-Nines North Jersey Chapter – 1999
Quiet Birdman Somerville Hangar – 1995
Yankee Air Force Award – 1981
Jack was a member of many aviation organizations including but not limited to:
Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA)
Air Force Association (AFA)
American Society of Aviation Artists (ASAA)
Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA)
National Business Aircraft Association (NBAA)
New Jersey Aviation Association (NJAA – which he co-founded with Jack Penn)
Mid-Atlantic Aviation Association (MAAC)
Mid-Atlantic Pilots Association (MAPA)
Quiet Birdman (QBs)
ARTICLES BY JACK OR ABOUT HIM
Below are links to some of Jack’s columns, articles about him, and a video produced for his 90th Birthday:
Final Wings Over Jersey article, Newark Star-Ledger, December 30, 2001 (posted on EAA Chapter 501’s website)
Last published article in Midwest Flyer magazine, October 21, 2011
90th Birthday video by Glenn Stott
90th Birthday article in General Aviation News by Drew Stekete, January 23, 2014
“Adventures in Flying” book release article in Airport Journals, by Henry Holden January 1, 2008