We recently reported on the acquisition of an F-104 Starfighter by the Warhawk Air Museum which took delivery of this warbird last month, purchasing the plane from the Merle Maine Collection in nearby Ontario, Oregon. Upon his passing his extensive collection of aircraft, which he kept at the Ontario Airport, is being liquidated by his estate.
An extremely successful businessman and construction contractor, Merle built a world-class assemblage of classic warbirds which he enjoyed sharing with fellow aviation enthusiasts, his collection being the main attraction of the annual Ontario Air Faire held each fall. Maine also hosted events throughout the year, any excuse to share his love of aviation with the public.
While Maine never served in the military, he had a special passion for warbirds, and his love of flying and of aircraft began the day when he took his very first flying lesson, and after he bought his first plane just snowballed, with him acquiring plane after plane. There was no provision in his will for the continuance of the collection and there is no local entity with the wherewithal to take on the expense of purchasing and maintaining such a extensive collection, so one by one the planes are being donated or sold to museums and collections across the country, and likely before it’s over, around the world. Given that his death came after a long battle with cancer, it certainly didn’t come as a surprise to Merle, and perhaps the dispersement is exactly what he wanted, his role as caretaker of these historic craft at an end, they move on to the next who will ensure that they continue to exist for future generations.