Sunday, March 07, 2021

Robby Quinn: Pilot delivers food to Kelleys Island, Ohio

St. Mary Central Catholic graduate Robby Quinn, right, takes a photo with Port Clinton Domino's owner Brian Edler before delivering pizzas to Kelleys Island residents. Quinn delivered food from local restaurants to the island by plane this winter.

KELLEYS ISLAND — There's drive-by delivery, but there's also fly-by delivery courtesy of Robby Quinn. 

A 2018 St. Mary Central Catholic High School graduate, Quinn deploys his airplane to make food deliveries this winter between the mainland and Kelleys Island. 

Quinn grew up and lives on the island. He attends Bowling Green State University during the week and goes home on the weekends. He’s had a pilot’s license since he was 16 years old and is studying aviation to become a commercial pilot after he graduates in 2022. 

“It was something I could do on Fridays, and it didn’t take a whole lot of extra time,” Quinn said. “I wanted to do something good.”

During the winter months, because of the ice and other winter conditions, it's difficult to travel to and from the island unless it’s through flight.

So earlier this year, and with COVID factors in mind, Quinn reached out to local restaurants to gather possible partnerships. He encouraged island residents to order by phone or online toward the end of the week and provided delivery updates on the island’s yard sale social networking group. 

Quinn refused to make any money from the deliveries because he's not a commercial pilot. 

The weekly food offered ranged from pizza to Mexican food. Some restaurants, like Domino’s in Port Clinton, went the extra mile. 

“They ended up being a great community partner,” Quinn said. “One week, they matched everything we sold and gave $600 to United Way in Port Clinton. They also gave extra oven boxes to keep the pizzas warm.” 

Food also came from Casa Las Palmas Mexican restaurant and Sloopy’s in Port Clinton.

“The work they did was awesome,” Quinn said. “The (Sloopy’s) owner reached out to me after the first order wondering how to make the process better. Overall, it was enjoyable.”

Once the orders were ready, Quinn flew out of Erie-Ottawa International Airport in Port Clinton. It’s an eight-minute flight from the mainland to Kelleys Island, he said. The entire process — from getting the food and to delivering it — took about 30 minutes. 

Quinn made six deliveries this winter, lasting through February. One weekend, strong winds prevented Quinn from flying back to the island. The pizzas already made were donated to Port Clinton police and orders were remade the next day. 

“Everyone’s super understanding,” he said. “Sometimes you aren’t able to make it back and forth and that’s part of living over there.”

Quinn credits his alma mater for sharpening his passion for community service. At SMCC, he was involved in Teen Leadership Corps, a class using service-based curriculum to empower student-led projects. 

“I did a lot of service projects in high school and that carried over into college,” he said.

Next year, Quinn wants to find more vendors and add more structure. 

“It’ll take more planning on my behalf,” he said. 

PORT CLINTON, Ohio — Whether it's playing games, reading books or something else, we've all got hobbies.

For one Bowling Green State University junior, it's flying planes. And now he's using that passion to bring a smile to his neighbors' faces.

This time of year, it's nearly impossible to get to and from the Lake Erie islands unless you travel by air.

"We started commuting back and forth with my dad every day when he was going to his office on the mainland and that's when I learned in third grade in the little plane back there," said Robby Quinn, a BGSU aviation student.

Quinn grew up on Kelleys Island and his passion was love at first flight.

"I've been flying my whole life. As long as I can remember," he said.

At the beginning of 2021 Quinn had an idea. He flies home to Kelleys Island on the weekends anyway, so why not offer his fellow full-time islanders some grub from inland?

"Years ago when we were living on the island year-round and I was growing up there, my dad would once a week bring Domino's back to Kelleys Island using their Huron location," he said. "So I just kind of adopted that idea and ran with it and took it a little further."

Actually, a lot further.

Like many college students do, Quinn turned to Tik Tok to show off his new project.

"It's cool this time of year when we are so isolated just to bring a little bit of comfort from the mainland," he said. "Everybody, for the most part on the island, is stuck cooking their own meals or going to the local VFW for food, which has a limited menu. So it's just exciting to have something new once a week."

Quinn offers new options for every Friday flight, from pizza to Mexican food. He said it's his way of giving back to a few dozen folks while he hopes his education lands him a paying gig.

"My plan is to finish up there (at BGSU) by 2022 and hopefully go on to the airlines or any other carrier that will take me right now."

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