Wednesday, June 3, 2009
ATF screws over vintage airplane collector: Premonitions of Absolved?
Claude Hendrickson III says he wants to fly the Douglas AD-4N Skyraider in air shows and eventually donate it to the Southern Museum of Flight.
Well, I went out to buy a Birmingham News today and what do I find on the front cover?
The Feds have seized a vintage airplane because the ATF has a paperwork issue. Another John McClain moment.
Gun owners to aircraft collectors: "Welcome to the party, pal!"
You know, one of the themes in Absolved is that there are no obsolete weapons, only obsolete tactics. Has the ATF internalized that fear already? Are they having premonitions of Absolved? Do they see Charlie Quintard in their sleep?
Or is it just the dimwitted ATF chickenshit paperwork/rule confusion default position?
Yeah, probably that. At least until the book comes out. ;-)
Collector puzzled over seizure of his vintage war plane by customs agents
Skyraider believed to be 1 of 4 left in U.S.
by Anita Debro -- Birmingham News
June 03, 2009
A vintage airplane collector said Tuesday that government agents have impounded his rare 1952 military aircraft he imported from France last fall and are threatening to destroy the plane because of a missed step in bringing it into the country.
Claude Hendrickson III said U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents seized his Douglas AD-4N Skyraider about six weeks ago at the Bessemer Municipal Airport hangar he leases.
"(ICE) basically said we smuggled the plane into the country. My question is how do you smuggle this into the country," Hendrickson asked pointing to the single-engine aircraft that was commonly used as an attack bomber during the Vietnam War.
Hendrickson's Skyraider is believed to be one of only four of its kind that remain in the U.S.
The airplane, which Hendrickson bought for $100,000 last May, since its seizure has been moved to another hangar at the Bessemer Airport.
Hendrickson said he is not allowed to fly the plane or perform any work on it until ICE agents release it.
ICE spokesman Temple Black on Tuesday declined comment on the case and forwarded questions to the U.S. Attorney's Office in Birmingham.
Officials in the U.S. Attorney's Office declined specifics on the matter, but said "ICE continues to investigate the case."
Hendrickson said he was not trying to bring the plane into the country illegally. He said he believed he followed all steps to import the plane.
The 48-year-old businessman hired attorneys Joe Lassiter and Anthony Johnson.
Hendrickson said his attorneys on Tuesday met with lawyers in the U.S. Attorneys in Birmingham regarding the plane.
Hendrickson said he has been advised that ICE had 60 days to file any criminal charges against him. He said the plane has already been impounded for about 45 days.
Hendrickson, who lives in Shelby County, said he was in Texas on business when federal agents seized the plane at the Bessemer Airport in May.
He flew into the airport as soon as he heard about the seizure and briefly met with ICE agents.
Hendrickson said ICE agents told him then that he had failed to fill out a form required by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco Firearms and Explosives when he imported the plane into the states from France.
Hendrickson said he was unaware he had to register the plane with ATF since he removed the aircraft's artillery while it was still in France.
Hendrickson did register the plane with the FAA.
The FAA issued a certificate of registration on the airplane in September 2008, according to the agency's Web site. The registered owner of the aircraft, according to the FAA, is Dixie Equipment LLC, the business Hendrickson owns.
IN HONOR OF FATHER:
Hendrickson's father, Claude F. Hendrickson Jr., is a retired captain in the Navy. The elder Hendrickson flew planes like a Skyraider during his service.
It was his father's service as a Naval pilot that sparked the younger Hendrickson's fascination with airplanes. The younger Hendrickson owns several vintage military aircraft that he houses in Bessemer including the exact SNJ-4 warbird his father flew during his time in the military.
He and his father made the trip to France last year for the Skyraider. After inspecting the aircraft, the two men hired a pilot to fly a 15-day trip to get the plane from Europe to Buffalo, N.Y.
The Hendricksons planned to enter the plane in air shows across the country. Hendrickson already flies several of his military planes in air shows.
The younger Hendrickson said once the Skyraider had made a successful run in air shows, he planned to donate the aircraft in his father's honor.
"Ultimately, my intentions from the beginning have been to fly this plane for five to 10 years in air shows and then donate it to the Southern Museum of Flight in my father's name."
Now, Hendrickson worries that the government will destroy the vintage aircraft.
"I just don't get it," Hendrickson said. "This is a part of American history. It is of no danger to the government."