Monday, May 31, 2010

Memorial Day

For too many people, Memorial Day is just one more holiday on the calendar, a day off from work and a time for sales and barbecues. But Memorial Day means so much more - a day to remember the men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice in defense of America's freedom.

At the American Airpower Museum, this is never forgotten. This year, the museum honored seven CIA officers who were killed by a suicide bomber in Afghanistan in December 2009. This was a rare event - the CIA doesn't hold public memorials to their personnel killed in action, in fact many remain anonymous due to the nature of their work. To mark this unusual memorial, Michael Sulick, Director of the National Clandestine Service of the CIA, spoke at the service.

AAM's Gary Lewi prepares for a live remote for the morning news.

Congressman Steve Israel, a long-time supporter of the museum, helped arrange the tribute.

Major Scott Clyman, Air Force Reserve F-16 pilot and museum trustee, presents a flag to Michael Sulick. Clyman carried the flag during a mission in support of the attack on the CIA employees in Afghanistan.

At the conclusion of the memorial service, B-17 Yankee Lady, escorted by museum aircraft, flew Director Sulick and others over the Statue of Liberty, where they dropped roses in honor of the CIA officers.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

How Low Will They Go?

Sunday was back to the tower for the final act of the show. With winds out of the north, most aircraft were using Runway 1, meaning they would be airborne by the time they reached the tower. Most knew we were watching, and it turned into something of a limbo contest to see could make the lowest pass.

Jim Vocell in the museum's F4U Corsair

Canadian CF-18 flies past

Dusty flies the for the A-10 East Demo team

The winner...second CF-18 departing for the Great White North

A Little Night Magic

Take a ramp filled with war birds, aerobatic aircraft and military jets, add in a group of photographers, and dim the lights, and you end up with History Under The Stars. Once again, the American Airpower Museum permitted us to invite a group of photographers onto their ramp after air show operations secured for the day.

A special thanks to the dedicated volunteers of the Airpower Museum for spending their night with us, after spending a day filled with air show activities.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Air Show - A View from the Tower

Saturday morning brought sunny skies for the official start of the show. Having seen most of the action at the beach, I opted for my usual Saturday location at the American Airpower Museum at Republic Airport. The museum hosts many of the air show participants, and affords an up-close view as they prepare for the beach.

The crowd lines the fence watching flight operations.

Chris Baranaskas visits with spectators after his performance.

The fine folks at the Airpower Museum have permitted a select few photographers to shoot the operations from the old airport control tower, now part of the museum.

Chuck Aaron in his aerobatic Red Bull helicopter returns from the beach.

A look at the museum flight line.

Friday, May 28, 2010

From The Show

Officially, the Jones Beach Air Show is two days, but for true enthusiasts, there are days of activities to experience. Friday was my beach day - down to Jones Beach for show practice. Four or five years ago, Friday practice was a well-kept secret, only a handful of people on the beach. These days, several thousand people view practice, but it still beats the more than 200 thousand who visit over the weekend.

Red Bull Air Race pilot Kirby Chambliss performs over the water.

Julie Clark closes her performance with style.

Chris Baranaskas flashes by in "Glamorous Gal"

Sneak Pass!

The Blue Angels closed the show...

Thursday, May 27, 2010

It's Show Time!

Air show time, that is...

Once again, the sound of afterburners fills the air around Republic Airport, as the annual Jones Beach Memorial Day Weekend Air Show comes to life. Although the show itself takes place on Saturday and Sunday down at the beach, the performers start gathering several days earlier at Republic Airport, where they will stage out of for the show. This year the Navy Blue Angels are the featured performers (they alternate years with the Thunderbirds.) Also on the schedule is a CF-18 from our friends in the Great White North, as well as an A-10 demo, the Golden Knights, and a wide variety of civilian aerobatic performers and warbirds.

Sean D Tucker heading out for a media flight.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Max Cleland, American Hero

He is a decorated, wounded US Army veteran of the Vietnam War, one-time head of the Veterans Administration, and a United States Senator from Georgia. Max Cleland continues to serve as the Secretary of the American Battle Monuments Commission. Among its other duties, the Commission is responsible for operating and maintaining permanent American military cemeteries in foreign countries. Secretary Cleland spoke at the American Airpower Museum on Tuesday at a reception hosted by Rep. Steve Israel, telling of his own personal history, as well as about the work done by the Commission to honor and memorialize American military personnel killed in combat.

With Congressman Steve Israel

Gary Lewi of the AAM shares a moment with Secretary Cleland

Thanks, Nancy...

Thursday, May 6, 2010

A Lesson in Horror

The good folks at the American Airpower Museum have hosted a myriad of events, honoring a wide range of people and subjects, but Wednesday's event may have been the most poignant. The museum recently acquired a WWII M8 Greyhound armored scout car, which was introduced at a ceremony this week.

To welcome the new arrival, the museum chose to focus on one of the Greyhound's most important roles. As a scout vehicle, it primarily served at the leading edge of the armored divisions moving across Europe as the Second World War drew to a close. In that position, it was Army units in Greyhounds that liberated many of the Nazi concentration camps as they moved forward chasing retreating German troops.

May 5 marked 65 years to the day that the camp at Mauthausen was freed. The museum invited a survivor of that camp, along with Army veterans who had help liberate those camps, to speak at the ceremony.

Thea Gotesmann-Rumstein, a survivor of the Mauthausen camp, describes her experiences.

WWII Army veterans helped free prisoners, saving countless lives.

The Greyhound was displayed behind a barbed wire fence, giving visitors a view similar to that which camp survivors saw when the American units arrived.

Listening to the stories told about the Holocaust, it was hard to find a dry eye in the house. Survivors of these horrors are getting to be fewer and few as each year goes by - hearing their stories firsthand evokes emotions not felt when reading a sterile history book. It was an amazing, emotional ceremony, one that was not to be missed.

Monday, May 3, 2010

A Rare Aviation Treat

Word spread quickly through the local aviation spotting community - a 707 was en route to Kennedy Airport. And not just any 707, but an Iranian government 707, something that hasn't been seen locally in years. Regardless of your views on world politics, this was BIG!

Phone calls and text messages flew back and forth - what time is it due in? What runway will they use? Will the sun stay out? Arrival estimates kept changing, but finally, at 6:30pm, the telltale smoke trails appeared on approach.

Not everyone was so excited...

Well, no, not really - that's Gordon, out spotting with his son, part of the crowd of more than a dozen spotters who captured the arrival. By the time the 707 arrived, he was up and shooting with the rest of us. 2010 is not even half over, but this may be the catch of the year!

Sunday, May 2, 2010

NorEastCon 2010

Aside from photography, one of my other favorite pass-times is plastic model building. Not that I've built much in recent years, but I remain active in my local model club, the Long Island Scale Model Society. LISMS has been active since 1972, and I've been a member for 30 years now.

Our annual show, RepLIcon, is held each year in March, but this year, we were honored to host NorEastCon, the annual Northeast regional convention of IPMS/USA. We were doubly honored - the American Airpower Museum allowed us to host the show at the museum - a first in NorEastCon history! Seeing hundreds of models on display in an historic hangar filled with WWII vintage aircraft and other displays was special.

Visitors were treated to the sight (and sound) of a P-47 Thunderbolt starting up and taking off...

More than 500 models were on display during the show:

The judges faced a difficult time picking winners amongst all the quality workmanship on display.

Model builders love to get an upclose look at all the little details...

It was long months of preparation, and long hours of work at the museum, but in the end, we had one of the best received and most successful shows in our history. Thanks to all our visitors, vendors, contest entrants, club members, and especially everyone at the American Airpower Museum!