Morgan Kaolian, pilot and photographer, dies
STRATFORD — Morgan Kaolian was a fixture in so many arenas of local life. He was a pilot, aerial photographer, longtime radio traffic reporter, and many other things, including a devotee to local news coverage, who would take aerial shots for his local newspaper, even though he wasn’t an employee.
“Unfailingly, he would call when he was up in the air, and ask if we needed (any photos),” said former Connecticut Post opinion editor and managing editor Michael J. Daly.
Kaolian, 90, died Sunday, Jan. 27 at his home in Stratford after a long illness. His rich, varied life included being a longtime traffic reporter for WICC-AM in Bridgeport. According to a 1994 New York Times article, Kaolian, who did his reports from a small plane, was the state’s first airborne traffic observer.
He also served as superintendent of operations at Sikorsky Airport in Stratford, where he worked for more than 20 years. But Kaolian was likely best known as a photographer. He did commercial work, exhibited his photos in galleries and, of course, had a longtime relationship with the Connecticut Post and its staff.
“He was a news guy,” Daly said. “If he heard something on the (police) scanner, he would go and get photos. He was a great guy.”
Though Daly said Kaolian’s relationship with the paper was “never an official thing ... he was always concerned about news and newspapers and reporters.”
Hearst Connecticut photo editor Ned Gerard, who works out of the Connecticut Post offices in Bridgeport, said he got to know Kaolian through his constant presence in the newsroom, but was familiar with him long before that.
“When I was in high school in the 1980s, my first experience with Morgan Kaolian was he was that guy on the radio who did the traffic reports,” Gerard said.
Later, he said, he came to know Kaolian as the guy who was present at dozens of newsworthy events, from fires to car crashes, getting amazing shots.
Daly remembers this as well. “There were many times he would bail the paper out with some great aerial photo that would usually end up on page one,” he said.
But most remember Kaolian as pilot, first and foremost. Daly said he remembers going up in a plane with Kaolian, along with Daly’s wife, Sharon, and daughter, Kate.
“I was terrified,” Daly said. “And the only reason Sharon wasn’t terrified was that she was up with Morgan Kaolian.”
His granddaughter, Kyah Durrschmidt, 17, also remembered her grandfather as a special person. She spent a lot of time following Kaolian into the newsroom and up his plane. “He used to take up in his plane every summer,” she said. “He used to take me to Block Island. It was a really interesting experience, having a grandfather who could fly.”
Calling hours for Kaolian are from 3 to 7 p.m. Friday at the Armenian Church of the Holy Ascension, 1460 Huntington Turnpike, Trumbull.