Thu, Jun 02, 2005
'Guess Where Your Old Plane Is'
It's a story that popped up in Lew Griswold's Fresno Bee column
Wednesday -- the story of a World War II veteran reunited with his
one-time love and constant companion. The veteran is 86-year old
Ray Melikian of Visalia, CA. The long-lost love is his Curtis P-40
(file photo of type, below).
"Guess where your old plane is?" read a note Melikian received
from war-buddy John Miller of Pomona. "Practically in your back
yard (sort of, anyway)."
As it turns out, the P-40 is being restored at Vintage Aircraft
Co. in Sonoma, CA.
Vintage owner Chris Prevost called Melikian three months ago,
according to Griswold's column, and offered to fly the P-40 to
Visalia when he was done. Melikian appeared nonplussed. "God help
you," he told Prevost. Such a kidder!
Melikian wasn't an ace, but he had three Japanese kills to his
credit and has a war chest full of stories about narrow escapes and
barely cheating death. It's nice to have a prop to go with the
The P-40 was found in an aviation junkyard in Australia 31-years
ago. It was twice sold before ending up at Pacific Aircraft in New
Zealand, where the fuselage was restored. Prevost obtained the
Curtis last year.
This isn't the first time Melikian has caught up with one of his
old rides. In 1969, the wreckage of an aircraft with his name
stenciled under the canopy turned up in New Guinea. He'd loaned it
to another pilot whose skeletal remains were found in the wreckage.
That was in 1942.
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