April 18, 2012 - EAA and the Warbirds of America are joining with the Commemorative Air Force, Collings Foundation, and other warbird groups in opposition of a proposed amendment to the House National Defense Authorization Act (H.R. 4310) that could have a devastating effect on the fleet of civilian-operated historic military aircraft.
The amendment introduced by Rep. Michael Turner (R-OH) would bar the Department of Defense from loaning or gifting any U.S. military aircraft or parts to any entity except those that would put the aircraft on static display, such as in a museum. The amendment would preclude the aircraft from being loaned to private individuals, associations, or museums where there is any intent of flying the historic vintage warbirds, even at air shows or demonstrations of support for veterans.
Military branches such as the U.S. Air Force often do not donate aircraft to private groups outright; they instead "loan" them under a Defense Department provision called Title 10 to individuals and groups for indefinite periods. These private individuals and groups usually restore and operate the aircraft at their own expense to demonstrate these pieces of flying history to events such as EAA AirVenture Oshkosh.
"The Department of Defense has made numerous attempts through the years to preclude any former military aircraft from being flown in civilian hands," said Doug Macnair, EAA's vice president of government relations. "This view has never been supported by any safety or security imperative and is currently being couched as a move to supposedly 'preserve' rare military aircraft. We can be assured that the U.S. military has neither the funding nor the mandate to preserve these aircraft in flying condition, which would leave the only option for them to be used as static museum displays. That would truly be a tragedy and a loss of our aviation and military heritage."
Rep. Turner's district includes Dayton, Ohio, home of the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force, which has been adamant in its attempts to ground former U.S. military aircraft. Ironically, Dayton is the same site where this week more than 20 B-25 bombers - preserved and flown by private groups and individuals - are gathering in a public spectacle to honor the 70th anniversary of the famed Doolittle Raid on Japan.
EAA and the other warbird groups are working with staff in the House's Armed Services Committee and Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, as well as the House General Aviation Caucus as the Defense Authorization Bill goes into initial committee review next week and to the House floor in early May. Although the exact language of the amendment has not been shared with the aviation community or widely on Capitol Hill, Rep. Turner plans to push the amendment despite initial congressional opposition.
EAA and Warbirds of America recommend that members contact their congressional representatives, urging them to voice their opposition to the Turner amendment and in support of maintaining the private ability to restore and fly these historic aircraft.
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CAF says it's "better to keep ... piece of our history on static display, rather than lose it altogether."