Leonard F. Kilinski
Leonard F. Kilinski, age 94, of Wells, NY, passed away peacefully at his home on Nov. 1, 2019. Born in Amsterdam, NY, at St. Mary’s Hospital on Christmas Day, 1924, to Raymond and Clara Karaszewski Kilinski.
Len grew up with a love of airplanes flying. When he was in his teens, he was awarded a certificate from the U.S. Navy for his work building model airplanes for an aircraft identification program for the Navy pilots.
He graduated from Wilbur H. Lynch High School in Amsterdam in 1942. He then joined the Army Air Corps (which later became the U.S. Air Force) and served basic training in Miami, Florida. He attended flight mechanic’s school in New York and New Jersey. As one of the top four in his mechanics class, he was sent to India during WW II. He traveled on the HMS Ranee, a British aircraft carrier and arrived in Cochin, India. Len and one other mechanic traveled by train from Cochin to Calcutta for assignment (he had some very interesting stories to tell about that train trip).
He was with the 329th Air Service Group, 42nd Service Squadron in Chabua, India. He flew into Burma, 120 miles behind enemy lines to repair aircraft at a remote air strip. Their objective was to repair damaged airplanes to make room for incoming supplies. They endured daily Japanese sniper and aircraft bombing attacks.
Len spent the remainder of his time in China, Burma, India, also known as the CBI Theater, traveling to different bases where mechanics were needed returning home to Amsterdam in March of 1946.
After returning to the states, Len was hired by General Electric Flight Test in Schenectady County Airport making jet engine parts by hand and testing them for the military. He joined Mohawk Airlines in 1948 as a mechanic, rising to inspector. He joined Wayfarer Ketch in 1960. Wayfarer Ketch was the flight operations for the Rockefeller family. He was Chief Flight Engineer serving for 25 years.
He flew with David, Laurence and Nelson Rockefeller on family and business trips, traveling around the world three times and visiting hundreds of countries and meeting many foreign heads-of-state. He was the Chief Flight Engineer for Nelson Rockefeller on Air Force II when he was vice president.
Len continued his love of aircraft by volunteering at the Schenectady based Empire State Aero science Museum as the crew chief on the restoration team. He was awarded the Volunteer of the Month for the Museum in February of 2000. In 1999, the FAA awarded Len the Charles Taylor Master Mechanic award. This award is only given to aircraft mechanics with over 50 years of service and upon recommendation by his peers.
In 1985 he retired and moved to his wife’s family home in Wells, NY. He was married to the late Helen Morrison in 1948, she passed away in 1997.
He was predeceased by his five siblings: brothers, Arthur, Ray and Jerome; and sisters, Aldona Ruggerio and Clara “Dolly” Raffele.
Survivors include his wife, Belinda Germain, whom he married in May of 2002; children, Frank Kilinski, Frances (John) Bertoline, Larry Kilinski, Timothy (Leslie) Kilinski, Donald (Denise) Kilinski and Debbie (Dean) Sim; six children; thirteen grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.
Family and friends are invited to a Mass of Christian burial will be celebrated on Thursday, Nov. 7, 2019, at 11 a.m. at St. Ann’s Catholic Church, 1303 Route 30, Wells, NY 12190. Father Sony Pulickal as celebrant. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made in Len’s memory to the Virginia Hosley Free Library, 1438 Route 30, Wells, NY or the Wells Volunteer Ambulance. Arrangements are in the care of Northville Funeral Service Inc., 401 Bridge Street, Northville, NY 12134. Please visit the family online condolence website at www.northvillefuneralservice.com.