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PostBaron Baranowski of the RAF (Michael Sullivan, USA, 09/15/16 3:15 pm)
John E's upcoming trip to Poland brought back a memory.
When I was an exchange pilot with the RAF back in 1960-1961, I served with a Polish radar observer who flew with the free Polish Air Force out of England in WWII. He was in a Russian concentration camp after Russia attacked Poland, but escaped. He was an expert bridge player and used to play for the guards' heads if they ever got out of the prison camp! He'd say to me, "Sullivan, bridge is not like flyink, you must tink!" Another famous quote was, "Sullivan, you tink you are goode, you are goode...goode for nothink!" Those were the days!
Baron Baranowski was his name, and he was a great athlete, winning many RAF sporting events.
"Benny," as we called him, called me "Sully-von" due to his accent. He was a wonderful person and had a super British wife!
One time, we delivered a Javelin fighter aircraft (started with six Javelins, lost two en route, with one pilot killed) to Singapore, departing from Cambridge, England, with 17 stops en route and flying and refueling through France, Italy, Malta, Libya, Cyprus, Turkey, down the Russian borders in the Mideast and all through the Trucial Oman States (Bahrain, Sharza and Misera), Pakistan, India, Burma, Thailand, Malaya, and on to Singapore.
It was the flight experience of a lifetime in so many ways. We had two Canberra aircraft to check the weather at our destination and one half way en route to report our destination weather upon arrival, as we only had 600 nautical miles of maximum range but usually flew much shorter flights. When we'd get half way they'd tell us to turn around and go back or continue to our destination, depending on the weather. This was required because we did this aircraft movement in the middle of monsoon season!
Benny said if they shot us down along the Russian border he would tell them I'm a spy, as he spoke Russian! It was amazing as the only Navaid we had was ADF (automatic direction finding) and the Russian stations put out five times the power as the Turkish, Iranian and other ADFs along our route, so if you were in the clouds or not paying attention with dead reckoning navigation and just following the needle you would fly into Russian airspace and they'd shoot you down!
It was not a very sophisticated method, but it worked and the Russians trapped several unsuspecting aircraft that way. Great memories!
Sadly, Benny Baranowski made his last take-off some twenty years ago.
JE comments: A gallant officer, and a singular sense of humor! I found this 2012 discussion on Benny Baranowski. I'm sure it's the same chap:
In 2013, Michael Sullivan gave us more details on that epic flight to Singapore. Be sure to scroll down for the follow-up (second) post: