Skip to main content

pete zeliff

Zeliff residence up for sale, businessman to remain locally involved

By Joanne Beck
Pete Zeiliff house west saile drive batavia
Pete Zeliff's house on West Saile Drive in Batavia.
Photo by Howard Owens.

Local businessman Pete Zeliff confirmed Monday that although he has put his Saile Drive property up for sale, he plans to remain in the area and be involved with his Genesee County endeavors.

Zeliff’s home at 4559 W. Saile Drive in Batavia has been listed by Michelle Dills at Howard Hanna for $3.5 million. He and his wife Doreen married in July and have homes in five states between them, he said, “because we’ve got grandchildren in almost all those places.”

“We’re just going to consolidate a bit. I don’t need this great big house here, along with everything else,” he said. “So I’ve got other homes here, and I just figured if I put this one up for sale, I don’t have this big house to take care of. We can stay in another place that I have.”

They will continue to be part of the Wings Over Batavia Air Show in 2024, as Zeliff explained that much of his own personal financial investment was because “we brought that air show back here for the community.”

He also plans to remain involved in a longtime annual Western New York Aviation Adventure Camp for high school students that he developed, and will be working on new construction of apartments with partner Ken Mistler with the Carr’s Reborn project on Main Street in downtown Batavia next month, he said.

Zeilif is also chairman of the board of directors for the Genesee Economic Development Center, with a term that expires in 2028, and serves on the United Memorial Medical Center Board of Directors. He is a recipient of the 2022 Health and Humanitarian Award and has been a supporter of many community charitable organizations. He is also a former Oakfield-Alabama Central Schools board member.

The property listed for sale is just down the road from Zeliff’s airport hangar on Saile Drive and is situated on 5.8 acres of land. So far, it has reaped some chatter on social media sites, which Zeliff indicated he has seen.

Skywriting spurs pre-show sales and volunteers for Wings Over Batavia

By Mike Pettinella
airshow wings over batavia

A late surge in volunteer sign-ups has Batavian Pete Zeliff, catalyst of Genesee County’s return to the air show arena after a 25-year hiatus, feeling pretty good just hours before the start of the star-studded Wings Over Batavia event.

“After the last volunteer meeting we had, another 180 people signed up to be volunteers. So, we’re near 400 volunteers right now for this show, which is about right where we wanted to be,” Zeliff said on Friday at the rehearsal for the show that takes place today and Sunday nights at Genesee County Airport on Saile Drive.

Zeliff said he’s projecting attendance of 10,000 to 12,000 per day. The show runs from 5-9 p.m. both days.

“Yesterday, when Nate Hammond went up and did the sky writing, every time he went up and did that, the online ticket sales spiked. So, that was great to see that,” he noted.

The show is being sponsored by more than 30 businesses and individuals from the surrounding area.

“We did okay on sponsors, but I wish we could have done a little better,” he said. “But we’ll get there. It’s our first year.”

Zeliff said he is impressed by the caliber of performers who have flown into Batavia to participate.

“Well, I think a lot of people didn’t realize (the magnitude of the show) or didn’t think that it was really going to happen,” he said. “Now, with everything going on here, people are seeing that this is going to happen.”

When asked how Genesee County was able to attract such top-notch talent, a couple of the performers said it was due to their respect for Pete’s wife, Doreen Hillard-Zeliff.

“Dennis (Dunbar, show chairperson) helps, but Doreen is the reason why everybody’s here. Doreen is it,” said Kevin Coleman of the Red Bull team. 

His partner, Luke Aikins, agreed.

“I think Doreen and Dennis, that combination of those two. At every air show Dennis has ever organized, everything runs smooth. They take care of the performers. And that's what Doreen and Dennis are known for from us. They keep us safe, and they give us great support. And we're happy to be here for them,” he said.

Zeliff had no problem getting on that bandwagon.

“Doreen was the air show mom to all these guys when they were young and getting started,” he said. “You can see that they have a lot of respect for Doreen.

“And it’s amazing to have the lineup that we have. The A-10 sitting out here on the ramp. There hasn’t been – other than helicopters at practice here from the National Guard – a military plane on the ramp in 26 years. Plus, Mike Goulian, Rob Holland, Lee Lauderback. We’ve got the top performers in the industry.”

Photos from Friday's rehearsal flights by Jim Burns.

airshow wings over batavia
airshow wings over batavia
airshow wings over batavia
airshow wings over batavia
airshow wings over batavia
airshow wings over batavia

Peter Zeliff to receive 37th Health and Humanitarian Award from Jerome Foundation

By Press Release


Press release:

The 37th Health and Humanitarian Award of Genesee County will be presented to Peter Zeliff of Batavia on Friday, Dec. 2, at an awards luncheon at noon at Terry Hills Restaurant. The award presented by The Jerome Foundation recognizes volunteer men and women of Genesee County who have helped promote the emotional, physical and spiritual well-being of the area’s residents.  Nominations reflected “ordinary people who reach far beyond themselves to the lives of those in need, bringing hope, care, and friendship, and helping build a stronger, healthier community.”

In naming Mr. Zeliff for this year’s award, the Jerome Foundation will recognize him for his many volunteer efforts.  He developed the WNY Aviation Adventure Camp for high school students interested in the field of aviation. He is spearheading an effort to bring back in 2023 the Wings Over Batavia airshow. Pete also has served on the Board of Directors of many local organizations.  Currently, he is Chairman of the GCEDC Board and serves on the UMMC Board of Directors. He also volunteers for Wings Flights of Hope, Veteran’s Air Lift Command and the Special Olympics Airlift.  In addition, he has supported multiple charitable causes in our community, including but not limited to, ARC, Crossroads House, CASA, ARC, GCC, Genesee Cancer Assistance and the Ricky Palermo Foundation. 

In nominating Pete Zeliff for this award, Paul Battaglia stated that “in his own quiet way, Pete has been involved in numerous events that have as their sole purpose the betterment of the people of our county.  Perhaps one of Pete’s largest contributions to our community has been his involvement in the development and capital campaign for the Healthy Living Campus.  He has spent countless hours working on the planning and fundraising for this project.”

In his letter of support for Peter Zeliff, Ricky Palermo wrote that “Pete if a person who gives selflessly of his time, talents and treasures to our community.  He has flown many at his own expense – including me – in need of medical care to other states so they can receive necessary treatment. Pete has dedicated his life to helping those in need and giving back to our community.”

The Health and Humanitarian Award luncheon is open to the public.  Tickets are $25 and maybe purchased by mailing a check to The Jerome Foundation, PO Box 249, Batavia, New York 14021. For information call Chris Fix at 356-3419 or by email to  Seating will be limited so early reservations are encouraged by Nov. 24.

Photo: File photo by Howard Owens

Zeliff back in Batavia, and back at work, while recovering from injuries in plane crash

By Howard B. Owens

A small plane on the runway of Howell-Livingston County Airport in Michigan waiting to take off confirmed for Pete Zeliff what his instruments and in-flight communications were telling him: it was safe to land.

As soon as his wheels touched down, he knew he wouldn't be able to stop. He immediately took the speed brakes up, put the flaps out and brought the power up to try and take off again, but before his wheels left the runway, his Cessna 525C Citation turned 90 degrees and he began sliding sideways. He managed to get the plane pointed straight again, but by then he was nearly out of runway.

"I thought, well, I'm just along for the ride now," Zeliff said in an interview with The Batavian this morning.

He said he remembers hitting a fence and a ditch but doesn't remember anything else until he found himself hanging upside down in his harness in the plane. He managed to get himself out and was walking around the plane when emergency responders arrived.

Federal Aviation Administration officials told him he walked to the ambulance himself, but he said the next thing he remembers is coming to in the ambulance and being told they were about 10 or 15 minutes from the hospital.

"I thought when I got to hospital I felt pretty good," Zeliff said. "I didn’t think I had any of the injuries I have. I thought I would be checked out, they would sign me off and send me home."

He suffered a fractured spine in two places, two broken ribs, and a cracked sternum. His doctors told him he's got about 10 weeks of recovery ahead of him, but then he should be fine with no lasting issues.

Zeliff, owner of p.w. minor, along with other local business interests, returned to Batavia two days ago and actually went into the office yesterday for a couple of hours, but said he will be on a light work schedule for the next few weeks.

As for the landing, he said his radar, "next rad" and the weather reports for the airport were rain with a ceiling of 6,000 feet and good visibility. He said he canceled his IRF (instrument flight rules) about five miles out from the airport. 

"There's an airplane at the end of the runway waiting to take off," Zeliff said. "I assumed there was ice, OK, but I didn't think it would be bad because of that little plane."

He's been interviewed by an investigator with the FAA and was informed yesterday there would be no FAA action in response to the accident.

"They said I did everything right," Zeliff said. "They actually said they wish more pilots would fly like I do."

The plane is a total loss. Its wings were sheared off, catching on fire at that point, well away from the upside-down fuselage. 

News video from the accident scene made the crash look pretty scary.

"To tell you the truth, I didn't have time to get scared," Zeliff said. "The whole episode probably took only 10 or 15 seconds. It's hard to tell right now, but I know I didn't have a lot of time to make decisions."

Previously: Local businessman Pete Zeliff OK after plane crash in Michigan

Local businessman Pete Zeliff OK after plane crash in Michigan

By Howard B. Owens

File photo

UPDATED 8:50 p.m.

A plane owned by Zeliff Aviation skidded off a runway while trying to land at an airport in Livingston County, Mich., today and according to news reports from the area, the pilot suffered only minor injuries.

The pilot was Pete Zeliff, owner of p.w. minor and a member of the Genesee County Economic Development Center Board of Directors. Zeliff is avid about aviation and owns planes and a helicopter, which are located at the Genesee County Airport. He annually sponsors an aviation summer camp at the airport for young people.

According to patient information at the University of Michigan Hospital, Zeliff is undergoing treatment but has not been admitted. A source said he was being kept for observation but is OK.

According to reports, Zeliff was attempting to land a Cessna 525C Citation at Howell-Livingston County Airport just before noon. The plane was unable to stop on the runway and it crashed through a barrier and across a roadway. The wings were torn off and the fuselage came to rest upside down.

One of the witnesses and first on the scene was a local mayor, Nick Proctor, who said he talked with the pilot and was told Zeliff had not been alerted to icy conditions on the runway before attempting to land.

Zeliff is active in the community on several fronts and rescued p.w. minor from almost certain closure a couple of years ago. He's invested heavily in the company since, created dozens of new jobs, returned manufacturing from China, and is helping to get a new retail shoe store open downtown. He also developed a subdivision of homes on the east end of Town of Batavia off of Route 5 called Oakmont.

Authentically Local