Friday, July 16, 2010

Warbirds Over Long Island

While I was at the airshow, I had the honor of meeting fellow Long Islander and P-51 pilot Chris Baranaskas. Chris pilots the P-51 "Glamerous Gal" as a co-founder of Warbids Over Long Island, and is dedicated to the presentation of World War II planes and the history that surrounds them. You can visit their website at

Chris's Mustang was featured in the book, "Front Row Center 4: Inside the Great American Airshow" by Erik Hildebrandt. He had copies of the book at his tent which he signed for my kids. The photography in the book is awesome whether you love planes or not. Check it out on Amazon with the link below.

The book tells the story of Chris and his father Bob and how they started Warbirds Over Long Island. While browsing their website tonight, I was saddened to discover that Bob passed away in April of 2009 in a crash over the ocean off Long Island in his vintage P-40 Warhawk while practicing for an upcoming air show.

This excerpt from their website is from Chris and what his father meant to him and the entire aviation community:
"There was not a day that my father didn’t climb into that cockpit and realize that he was entrusted with a piece of our American military heritage so that he could tell our country’s story. It is a story that doesn’t end with his death and it is a story that is as important today as it was when his P-40 was built during World War II. Through Warbirds Over Long Island his passion was to get people in touch with our heritage which is why you would find him after a flight going over to the fence line and talking to visitors and guests about the fighter he flew and the men who went into combat with it.
Pilots especially will appreciate the power of what I say when I tell you he was much more than a loving father and devoted grandfather. He was – in every sense of the word – my wingman. And now my wingman is gone but our mission continues. I believe every one of us who is part of the Warbird community has an obligation to employ these former weapons of war as my father did, as living tributes to those who preserve, protect and defend. My father lived that credo to his last moments."

Christopher Baranaskas

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