I was returning from Novato this morning (having swapped Ray Bazurto a prop blank for the Zero canopy). As I turned off 137 at Sears Point a P-40 roared overhead. It circled and dived around the Carneros area and shortly after I pulled up at Schellville airport It landed and taxied right up to the parking lot.

It is in olive drab with 1944 markings - exquisite.

I've since found that it flew for the first time a month ago after owner Chris Prevost had completed 10,000 hours of rebuilding work. It was found in Australia in the seventies and partially restored in New Zealand.

What's remarkable is that its original South Pacific pilot, 90 year old Ray Melikian, lives in Visalia, and has been offered a free ride in the P-40 by Chris Prevost, who installed a second set of controls and a jump seat behind the pilot's seat.

If this hasn't already happened, I'd sure like to be there - it would be a special moment.


Dave said...

Tom, you were in the right place at the right time. What a great story. I hope the former pilot gets his ride.

I am always amazed (on the rare occasions) when I look up and see historic airplanes like this. First time was a P-51 in Vacaville, then there was a B-17 in San Ramon, and a few others I forget. Oh yeah, and of course Otis Spunkmeyer's C-41 (the first military DC-3) was ubiquitous in the 1990s around SF Bay.

planecrazy said...

COOL!!! Actually, WAY COOL!! While I'm not an especially big fan of WWII warbirds, I have seen a number fly at full-scale fly-ins and at the Reno Air Races and they've never failed to inspire me! Nothing quite like the sight of a genuine WWII airframe and the sound of a Merlin or one or more "round" engines!!