Air Show Pilots Pay Tribute to Comrade

Pilots flew an aerial salute known as a "missing man formation"

Air show pilots performed an aerial salute Saturday to their comrade who died after his World War II-era plane crashed in the Hudson River between New York and New Jersey a day earlier.

The P-47 Thunderbolt crashed Friday night during a promotional flight for the American Airpower Museum on Long Island, which is celebrating the 75th anniversary of the P-47 this weekend.

The plane's pilot, William Gordon, 56, of Key West, Florida, was a veteran air show pilot with more than 25 years of experience. New York City police scuba divers recovered his body from the wreckage of the downed aircraft Friday night, about three hours after the collision.

As bagpipes played in the background on Saturday, pilots flew over the museum in an aerial salute known as a "missing man formation" in a tribute honoring Gordon.

Scott Clyman, flight operations pilot for the American Airpower Museum, called Gordon "an extraordinary pilot who understood the powerful message our aircraft represent in telling the story of American courage and valor." Promotional material for a Key West air show last month said Gordon was an "aerobatic competency evaluator" who certified pilots to perform low-level aerobatics."

Museum spokesman Gary Lewi said the plane was kept at the museum and was taking part in an air show at nearby Jones Beach this weekend.

Clyman told fellow mourners at a service Saturday that Gordon had always been fascinated by World War II fighter planes "and he quickly demonstrated the skill to master these demanding aircraft."

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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