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David Tallichet Jr., noted WWII aircraft collector Dec. 20, 1922 -- Oct. 31, 2007

David Tallichet Jr., founder of the Anaheim, Calif., company Specialty Restaurants Corp., which owns Shanghai Red's, and once the foremost collector of flying World War II aircraft, died Wednesday. He was 84.

Mr. Tallichet was born in Dallas and joined the Army Air Forces during World War II, serving in the 350th Bombardment Squadron, 100th Bomb Group, in Britain. He and his crew flew 23 combat missions in B-17 bombers. Later, he flew transport aircraft during the initial stages of the rebuilding of war-torn Europe.

He began working for Hilton Hotels Corp. after the war in a variety of staff positions while serving in the New Mexico Air National Guard so he could fly P-51 Mustang fighter aircraft.

After serving as general manager of the Lafayette Hotel in Long Beach, Calif., Mr. Tallichet and two partners opened the Reef Restaurant in 1958, launching Specialty Restaurants, which would encompass more than 100 restaurants across the country.

Shanghai Red's, which was built on the site of the former Crawdaddy's, also run by Specialty Restaurants, opened in October 2004 overlooking Erie Basin Marina.

Mr. Tallichet's main interest was collecting and restoring World War II aircraft to flying condition. That sometimes took him to remote areas of the globe to recover them, including overgrown jungle battlefields.

Mr. Tallichet at one time held the largest collection of privately owned flying World War II aircraft, which were sometimes used in Hollywood productions. He flew a B-17 Flying Fortress across the Atlantic to Britain to take part in 1990's "Memphis Belle" and participated in other films.

In July 2007, Mr. Tallichet, a resident of Orange, Calif., took one of his B-17s to an air show in Michigan, where he was honored as the last World War II combat pilot still flying one of those rare aircraft.

Survivors include his wife, the former Carol Margaret Schmidt, an Eden native; a daughter, Catherine Ann; and three sons, William Robert, John David and James Lee.


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