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Georgia Aircraft Restorer Settles Dispute with Federal Authorities Over Removing Rare Aircraft Parts from Alaska Public Land

U.S. Attorney’s Office December 19, 2013
  • District of Alaska (907) 271-5071

ANCHORAGE—U.S. Attorney Karen L. Loeffler announced today that an aircraft restoration company based in Douglas, Georgia, reached a settlement agreement for unauthorized use of public lands in Alaska.

B-25 Group LLC, a commercial aircraft restoration company led by Aircraft Restoration Specialist Edward Thomas Reilly, Jr., has paid the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) $55,000 to conclude a five-year investigation surrounding the unauthorized removal of parts from a historic F-82 crash site located south of Fairbanks, Alaska.

The F-82, serial number 46-497, took off with two other F-82 aircraft from Ladd Air Force Base (AFB) (currently U.S Army Garrison Fort Wainwright) on January 16, 1950, for local practice of aerial interceptions. During the flight, 46-497 crashed on the Tanana Flats near Fairbanks, killing both military service members on-board.

During July 2008, salvagers affiliated with B-25 Group located and removed parts from the crash site without authorization from BLM, the agency that manages federally owned lands. B-25 Group initially asserted the parts had been lawfully acquired from a salvage yard in Fairbanks. Although the U.S. Air Force had formally abandoned ownership of the remains of all USAF aircraft that had crashed prior to November 1961, U.S Air Force and public land policy requires salvagers to obtain permission and coordinate salvage plans with the owner of the land. In the case of this F-82 aircraft, the land owner is the U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Land Management.

The settlement agreement provides BLM with $50,000 for archeological work in recovering the remainder of this historic aircraft. B-25 Group has also agreed to provide patterns and specifications for the parts it recovered from 46-497 and built into its P-82 currently undergoing restoration.

According to Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephen Cooper, the additional $5,000 was assessed as a civil penalty and will be used by BLM to further its efforts to protect historic aviation properties in the state of Alaska.

Ms. Loeffler commends the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, Department of the Interior, for the investigation of this case. In addition to the BLM, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and U.S. Air Force Office of Special Investigations also are to be commended for their efforts associated with the investigation of this case.