Pasco “Pat” Melone

Cranston native Pasco “Pat” Melone (1913-2007) was an accomplished flight instructor, aerial photographer, aerial banner tower, and aerial acrobat. Called “Rhode Island’s version of Waldo Pepper”, he soloed at the old Buttonwoods airport at the age of 17 after less than 7 hours of dual flight time. According to his family, he was told “not to come back” because he did a loop during the 1930 solo flight. Undaunted, Melone sent away for an airplane kit and first assembled it in his bedroom. He then disassembled it, carried the parts outside, reassembled and flew it—getting written up in Horatio Alger’s newspaper at the age of 18. Family lore has him buzzing the state house and “crashing” on Spectacle Pond in Cranston, only to fly away again when the police showed up. He allegedly rented an aircraft that he had never flown before, flew it for an hour, then took and passed the test for his commercial license in that aircraft. He enlisted in the 243rd Coast Artillery of the RI National Guard, and by 1940 he was a corporal. He had become a flight instructor prior to WW2, and during the war he served as an Army Air Corps civilian flight instructor at Hawthorne School of Aeronautics in South Carolina. He also taught French cadets at Hawthorne—one of whom eventually became a Concorde pilot. By 1950 he was a commercial pilot examiner for the Civil Aeronautics Administration, and was flying for Allen Airways at Hillsgrove. His work ranged from ferrying Providence Journal-Bulletin photographers to aerial banner towing—a skill at which he became quite adept. After a break in service, Mr. Melone re-entered the RI Air National Guard, serving 16 more years before retiring as a staff sergeant.

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