MIDLAND, TEXAS -- The National Museum of the Air Force (USAFM) Board of Directors rejected the Commemorative Air Force's (CAF) offer to drop its lawsuit concerning the ownership rights of the F-82 in exchange for allowing the airplane to remain on static display at the CAF Airpower Museum in Midland, Texas.
In a written proposal, hand-delivered to the Air Force History Department in Washington D.C., the CAF proposed to drop its appeal and let the ruling in the trial court stand, in exchange for allowing the CAF to retain physical possession of the F-82 in the USAFM’s Loan Program. The same loan program is used across the country for static Air Force owned aircraft at aviation museums.
The proposal submitted by the CAF states, "This proposal is put forth in the spirit of trying to put this unpleasant disagreement behind us … Although we still disagree with the position of the Air Force to not allow its vintage warbirds to fly, we would prefer to continue this discussion through persuasion versus litigation."
"I had great hopes that this would be an amicable way to agree-to-disagree, yet still concede to the USAFM's policy to not fly the F-82, which has supposedly been their concern. This decision to reject our proposal is confusing and disappointing." says Stephan Brown, President and CEO of the CAF. "Our mission is to honor American military aviation, through the flight of these historic aircraft, but we felt it was better to keep this important piece of our history on static display, rather than lose it altogether."
The response to the CAF's proposal by the Director of Air Force History and Museum Policies and Programs states, "After a robust and thorough discussion, the voting members of the Heritage Board unanimously decided that, based on the history of this matter and the precedential import of the judicial determination concerning the ownership of the F-82 to the National Museum of the United States Air Force and the other Armed Services, the offer of settlement could not be accepted."
As a result of the declination of the CAF settlement proposal, the F-82, which has been a part of the CAF history for 40 years, must be shipped back to the USAFM in Dayton, Ohio, immediately.
"Of course, the Judgment will be obeyed," says Brown. "And it will be a sad day for 9,000 active CAF members and those before them, who have poured tens of thousands of dollars and man-hours into saving this airplane. How ironic that our founders Lloyd Nolen and Marvin 'Lefty' Gardner saved this airplane (and many more) from the Air Force's destruction, just to have the Air Force Museum repossess it in order to 'preserve' it.
"However, now we will continue forward with the Appeal. The Appeal is a de novo review, in which the Appellate Court is not bound by the trial court, but reviews the entire case. We are hopeful that the Appellate authority will see things differently."
Collecting, restoring, and flying vintage historical aircraft for more than half a century, the Commemorative Air Force (CAF) ranks as one of the largest private air forces in the world. The CAF is dedicated to Honoring American Military Aviation through flight, exhibition, and remembrance. For more information visit www.commemorativeairforce.org.
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