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Monterey man offers toast to WWI air ace who disappeared over the Sound

(Emily Thurlow) Harlan Lanoue, of Monterey, toasts to a WWI aviation ace who disappeared 100 years ago on May 29, 2019.

TYRINGHAM — Every year, for the last 30 years, Harlan Lanoue raises a glass of champagne to toast a man who’s deeply influenced his life, to a man who’s left his mark in local and national history, and to a man that he’s never met.

Lanoue, an amateur historian, has been collecting World War I aviation artifacts since he was a teenager. Although he sat on his father’s lap every Sunday morning reading the Peanuts comic strip and hearing of the Red Baron, it wasn’t until he picked up the book, “The Red Night of Germany” by Floyd Gibbons that his interest — and the collection that the book currently resides in — truly ignited.

Over the years, Lanoue began working one job to pay his bills and another to fuel his hobby. Now, his collection has grown to require a separate room in his Monterey home. Inside the four walls, Lanoue estimates that his collection includes roughly 1,000 artifacts, including 40 pilots uniforms, and as of Sunday afternoon, 1,273 books in his research library.

But unlike other avid collectors, Lanoue’s collection is a little different.

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