Vince Vitollo Lived Here

You learn alot about the history of a place by talking to the neighbors.  Particularly during these times of rebuilding at the Jersey Shore, people who might normally elicit a wave in the street stop to chat about what was — as a backdrop to what will be again.  We were fortunate; though the four level units below us were flood damaged, our elevation protected us.  Several of the homes situated lakeside were wiped out from  Sandy whirlpooling Little Silver Lake from the back yard into a confluence with the Atlantic Ocean coming down the block through the front yard.

Lot

It was from our neighbor to the East, who was clearing out downed shrubs between our properties, that I learned this morning that 101 Trenton Avenue in Point Pleasant Beach was once owned by Vince & Rose Vitollo before Art Matuschat took the old bungalows and modernized it into the beautiful condo that it is.  Evidently Vince was and adventuresome guy, who parked his ultralight plane in the back yard and took off right over the lake to work every day.

Ultralight Flying

I don’t know much about Ultralight Flying, but from what I’ve read it’s hobbyists adore the feeling of flying this plane, a cross between being a bird, a plane and Superman.  Some feel it isn’t particularly safe, the engine basically having the power of what you’d find in a good garden lawnmower.  This has generated some controversy about the sport, or hobby, or call it what you will.

Plane

This isn’t Vince Vitollo, but it could just as well have been him.  Try to imagine the scene in our backyard, as Vince took off each morning like a 20th century fox.  He lived in the rear unit of what was a small set of bungalows, occupying the rear unit and renting out the forward ones.  What is now the breezeway was Vince’s landing strip.

Breezeway

breezeway exit

swan1Evidently Vince died doing what he loved.  Here is the report from the New York Times on what happened on March 21, 1999:

The pilot of an ultralight aircraft, one of the leading experts on the unconventional planes, was killed and his student critically injured when their plane crashed near a golf course shortly after takeoff yesterday afternoon, the authorities said.

Vince Vitollo, 75, a flight instructor, was pronounced dead at the scene of the crash, near the Fairways Golf Course, at 2:30 P.M., the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office said. Mr. Vitollo’s student in the two-seat aircraft, Theodore Koziol of Brick, N.J., was in critical condition last night at Jersey Shore Medical Center in Neptune.

Greg Sakowicz, a spokesman for the prosecutor’s office, said the plane took off from the Ultra-Light Aircraft Center in Jackson, which was owned and operated by Mr. Vitollo.

An employee of the flight center, Jack Eicholtz, said Mr. Vitollo was a pioneer in the ultralight industry, a former Army Air Corps flight instructor and a retired aviation researcher. ”Ninety percent of the people in New Jersey who fly ultralights were trained by Vince,” said Richard Dinnerman, a fellow pilot.

About Leonard J. Press, O.D., FAAO, FCOVD

Developmental Optometry is my passion as well as occupation. Blogging allows me to share thoughts in a unique visual style.
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2 Responses to Vince Vitollo Lived Here

  1. Aldo J Sibi says:

    I love your Blog.I Worked as an instructor for Vince, I have several photos of him flying from that very location..Id love to share with you..He was a Great man and a good pilot…Let me know If I can help with your page..I remain an ultralight pilot and regular pilot to this day, I currently reside in Mojave California As a production Supervisor for Virgin Galactic…Id love to share some stories as well Thanks So much Al Sibi

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