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http://www.boston.com/dailynews/087/region/Navy_wants_Minnesota_mechanic_:.shtml

Navy wants Minnesota mechanic to return salvaged WWII plane

By Associated Press, 3/27/2004 12:00

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) The federal government has filed a lawsuit against a Minnesota mechanic to retrieve the wreckage of a Corsair fighter that the U.S. Navy abandoned after it crashed in a North Carolina swamp in 1944.

Lex Cralley, who says he has a passion for preserving World War II aviation history, salvaged the pieces of the plane in 1990 and transported it to a storage facility near his home in Princeton. He then registered it as a ''non-airworthy model'' with the Federal Aviation Administration and began the painstaking work of restoration. The task is still long from complete.

Last week, the U.S. Justice Department, acting as an agent for the Navy, filed a lawsuit in Minneapolis seeking the plane, the cost of returning it and compensation for ''any damage to or alteration of'' the aircraft since Cralley dug it out of the swamp.

''As owner of this aircraft, I will vigorously defend my position,'' Cralley said Friday, though he added that the government's legal move has him rattled.

''I'm just a little guy,'' said Cralley, 49, an aviation mechanic. ''I have no wealth, work for a living, have four kids.''
 

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yeah, it's his plane. As a Navy vet, I can tell you to not try to understand everything the Navy does.

Of course, we don't have the Navy's side. Perhaps there is something about the the plane, or the incident that left it in the swamp, that is sensitive in some way.
 

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sensitive? swamp?

never thought I'd see those words even in the same sentence!

;)
 

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Carlos Spicyweiner
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I know if someone was killed in the crash they like to leave them there as a type of tomb, even if the body was removed. I doubt that is the case here.

I was talking to a volunteer worker at the Museum of Flight in Seattle. He said that there are 20 planes or so at the bottom of Lake Washington that they aren't allowed to touch. Can't restore them or anything.

They do have a beautiful Corsair that was pulled from the bottom and restored, but it still belongs to the Navy, not the museum.
 

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it just seems, at a very high level, if an entity abandons an item for so long, it clearly should lose all claims to it. its not like it crashed a week ago and they haven't had time to salvage it.

but the armed forced (and gov) don't have to follow the same laws that you and I do. I think that's wrong, too.
 

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Carlos Spicyweiner
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linux-works said:
it just seems, at a very high level, if an entity abandons an item for so long, it clearly should lose all claims to it. its not like it crashed a week ago and they haven't had time to salvage it.

but the armed forced (and gov) don't have to follow the same laws that you and I do. I think that's wrong, too.
Well, there are reasons for the military to do this (different laws), right or wrong. It's just silly in this case though. This aircraft (and others like it) are a piece of military aviation and American history. There are very few left. Why they feel the need to spend OUR money on harrassing this dude is beyond me. Let the guy restore a rare plane or let it rot in a swamp? hmmmm.......
 

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What is important here is that the plane was located on US territory. That means that the Navy still owns the plane even though they never did anything to salvage it themselves. If the plane was in international waters, or on territory of another country, then it would be a different situation. In international waters the owner has limited time to start salvage after which the ownership expires and the wreck is available for salvage by anybody who chooses to put up money to get the wreck salvaged.
I bet that the guy just went and salvaged it without getting permission from the Navy, and now is in bind. Navy does not like it's property being taken even after 50+ years. That's just guvmint at work. :sad:
 

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You loose a wallet someone finds it after a time and starts to use your cards. That will be OK then. Or, heaven forbid, someone makes off with your B5 and dumps it anybody finding it can put it back together and drive it about?? :lol:
 

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This made me wonder how long the government should be able to claim found pieces of the Columbia in its debris field. Say after 50 years, someone finds a piece. Does the government own it? I think you have to say the government owns the plane unless they agree to give it away or sell it. And I agree that's unfortunate in this case.
 

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The article says the navy abandoned it. As in they knew where it was, but didn't really care enough to retrieve it, so they left it....abandoned it. The didn't lose it like a wallet,,,somebody didn't take off with it and then dump it. The navy chose to abandon it. At least that's what I got from the article. To me, something that is knowingly thrown away is fair game to someone who deems it of some value.

I think the navy dropped the ball and are now trying to strong arm this guy, 60 years after they "abandoned" it and 10 years after someone picked up. They are actually sueing the guy? Shame on you Navy.
 

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Well what I would do is this. I would find who owns the land where the plane was located and make a deal with him/her to bill the guvmint for retroactive "storage" fees. I think that the guvmint would agree to settle for the value of the plane in a heartbeat. :lol:
 

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Boris said:
Well what I would do is this. I would find who owns the land where the plane was located and make a deal with him/her to bill the guvmint for retroactive "storage" fees. I think that the guvmint would agree to settle for the value of the plane in a heartbeat. :lol:
:lol: :lol: :lol: :lol:

Though I still agree with Joker, the navy abandoned it. Its not at all like a wallet situation.

The make the wallet situation work, you would have to know where your wallet was, lets say in the park. And while knowing full well where it was, decide that you don't want to go get it. 50 years later some guy finds it, and decides he wants to restore the leather. Now 10 years after this guy found it, you decide to sue him for "stealing" your wallet...

give me a break...

Our Tax dollars at work....

-Nick
 

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What could this be worth to the navy? It seems like they are just picking on him for fun. It's his plane.
 

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Boris said:
Well what I would do is this. I would find who owns the land where the plane was located and make a deal with him/her to bill the guvmint for retroactive "storage" fees. I think that the guvmint would agree to settle for the value of the plane in a heartbeat. :lol:
Good point. The way I believe salvage laws work is that the article (in this case an aeroplane) belongs to the owners (Navy) no mater what. If you salvage it you are entitled to reimbursement of your costs. So the guy could bill the Navy for the salvage and storage which would ultimately add up to more than the plane is worth. It should be remembered, however, it is still not his until the Navy give up rights to it.
 

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linux-works said:
sensitive? swamp?

never thought I'd see those words even in the same sentence!

;)

ah, ah...not so fast!

Swamp = Wetland = Ultra-SENSITIVE ecological zone!!! :wink:
 
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