Skip to comments.Man gets to keep rare WWII airplane
Posted on 05/11/2005 8:04:35 AM PDT by Rakkasan1
It's taken six years and a special act of Congress, but an aircraft mechanic from Princeton, Minn., is the undisputed owner of a rare World War II Corsair fighter plane that he salvaged 15 years ago from a North Carolina swamp.
Last week, U.S. District Judge Michael Davis in Minneapolis approved a settlement that ends a lawsuit filed a year ago by the U.S. Justice Department against Lex Cralley. The lawsuit was the climax of an escalating battle of wills that had been going on since 1999 between the 50-year-old Northwest Airlines mechanic and the U.S. Navy.
"I've been under a cloud so long, it almost seems like a dream that it's over," Cralley said Tuesday.
In celebration, Cralley said he plans to exhibit the still-skeletal and disjointed remains of the Corsair at the annual Experimental Aircraft Association show next August in Oshkosh, Wis.
"It remains a piece of naval aviation history to be shared," said Cralley, whose dream is to restore the plane to flying condition something that will take many years and millions of dollars, according to aviation history experts. It's estimated that fewer than 25 Corsairs still are flying.
In 1990, Cralley salvaged the remains of the fighter plane that had been buried in the muck of a North Carolina swamp for 46 years after it crashed there during a training flight in 1944. Shortly after the crash, a Navy report noted the death of the pilot, Marine Lt. Robin C. Pennington, and described the plane as "demolished."
Cralley transported the pieces of the shattered plane to a workshop behind his home in rural Princeton, registered it as a "non-airworthy model" with the Federal Aviation Administration and began the painstaking work of restoration.
Nearly a decade later, however, the Navy came calling.
(Excerpt) Read more at twincities.com ...
I love how they waited until he dug it out and restored the frame before inquiring. If he hadn't dug it out, it would have been there for the next century.
I visited this guy's hangar once when a friend of mine was doing computer work for him. Fantastic stuff! He and his friends work all day on restoring old WWII wrecks into showroom pieces that they fly to airshows all over the country.
What the heck did the gubmint want with it anyway?
The gubmint wants things like a two-year-old wants things. They don't want them. Rather, they want to want them.
Crap like this outweighs 100 favorable stories about the US Navy. What a shame.
The Navy's decision to fight for the aircraft might not have been based on the aircraft itself. The Navy has a compelling interest in keeping rights to all salvage that was once (still is) Navy property. If somebody lays claim to a US Navy ship sitting on the bottom of the ocean, the Navy will immediately assert their legitimate claim. If they let a few people keep small pieces of Navy property, including an old, demolished airplane, it might set precedent for such salvage.
I'm not up on maritime/salvage law, but their approach appears to be similar to patent copyright law; you must aggressively defend your patents and copyrights or risk losing them.
BTW; I'm glad the guy won. I'd hate to see the aircraft decaying in a swamp or the guy's hard work lost.
Twenty years later some of those Chance/Vought employees watched a President murdered in a "crossfire--they were shooting at that [bleep]Kennedy from everywhere...!"
The folks who built a plane that almost won a war by itself, were dreaming up fantasies and telling fairy tales--because it was one kook on the sixth floor of a warehouse.
The Corsair, a grand old airplane. It could hold its own with the best of 'em. Including the Mustang. Check out the following link on the best fighter-bomber of WW2.
Thanks for posting the photo. I had a gas powered plastic Cox model when I was a kid. Flew so fast I'd get dizzy and wreck it! Built a balsa and paper model from a kit once. Shellacked it and put on decals. Worked on it for weeks. It came out looking great but wouldn't fly for shit. Too much shellac, I guess. Beautiful plane.
Nice pic. What a thrill it must be to fly one of those.
Deborah Sciascia, an attorney for the Naval Inventory Control Point in Philadelphia, referred calls to naval public affairs. In turn, they referred calls to the public affairs office of the Department of Justice, which could not be reached for comment. However, in a letter that accompanied the settlement, the Navy's assistant director, Helen D. Rosen, stated that the agreement "is in the best interests of the United States."
We've got womyn attorneys running the Navy now.
We've come a long way baby, eh?
Thanks for the Corsair link. My father flew them in Korea and it remains one of his favorite fixed-winged aircraft.
One of his "Thought I had bought the farm stories" in that aircraft found him in a flat spin! He managed to break it by lowering the landing gear; and, as he puts it, "If that hadn't worked, your mother would have been a widow!"
He has several models of it in his den, and a copy of the orginal Navy POH!
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