Sunday, 8 January 2012

Another US Collector Loses Property Without Documentation of Lawful Import

Claude Hendrickson, president of Dixie Equipment in Woodstock, Ala., bought himself a Douglas AD-4N Skyraider aircraft with full equipment (log books, four 20mm M3 aircraft cannons and assorted aircraft parts) abroad. It is one of relatively few [airworthy] machines of this type still in existence. He then had it flown into the US in August 2008:
without the required authorization from the U.S. Department of State. The pilot, who was hired by Hendrickson to fly the plane from France into the United States, provided false information to U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers at the Port of Buffalo, N.Y., to gain admittance into the country.
Nevertheless it seems even a small warplane can be smuggled through the barrier of bubbles that is the US border security. Hendrickson kept it at the Bessemer Airport, Jefferson County, Alabama. The collector had a few problems with getting the cannons through the border though.
The 20mm cannons arrived at the Port of Savannah, Ga., on Oct. 8, 2008, inside two 40-foot shipping containers being imported by Dixie Equipment. CBP officers discovered the cannons concealed in a wooden box, hidden under aircraft parts in the nose of one of the containers, although the cannons were not listed on the entry form, bill of lading, invoice or any other documentation submitted by Dixie Equipment.
It was only after the discovery and seizure of the cannons on Oct. 15, 2008 that Customs and Border Patrol officers noticed the plane. An ICE HSI investigation revealed that the Skyraider aircraft had entered the United States illegally, and as a result the following year ICE HSI agents seized the plane (through a court order of April 24, 2009). As a result, on Dec. 21, 2011, Judge William M. Acker, Jr., U.S. District Judge for the Northern District of Alabama, ordered that the aircraft, log books, four 20mm M3 aircraft cannons and assorted aircraft parts be forfeited to the government as property brought into the United States in violation of U.S. law.
"The Skyraider aircraft, its cannons and parts are all subject to import licensing requirements as ‘defense articles' under the Arms Export Control Act. Federal law prohibits the importation of defense articles without a license or permit," said Raymond R. Parmer, Jr., special agent in charge of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in New Orleans. "ICE aggressively investigates these cases in order to deter this type of illegal activity and protect those who abide by our nation's laws."[...] Neither the State Department nor the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) had granted a permit, license or other written authorization for the importation of the Skyraider, the cannons or the aircraft parts at the time they entered the United States.
It is now reported that the ICE HSI is currently
working to transfer the Skyraider aircraft, cannons, and assorted aircraft parts, including three Wright engines, to the U.S. Department of the Navy, National Naval Aviation Museum in Pensacola, Florida, for the purpose of preserving the aircraft's value as a significant and lasting part of our nation's Naval aviation history.
Once again, we see another example of US collectors losing their property due to the failure to document lawful passage across international borders. I don't know how much Hendrickson paid for his plane, but suspect he is quite a bit out of pocket through the failure to get the required bits of paper to bring this piece of cultural property into the United States. Again, the CCPIA was not involved at all in this affair, and it seems to me that dealers' lobbyists who claim to be working "in the interests of collectors" really ought to be drawing collectors' attention to the dangers of ignoring acquiring artefacts without paying attention to securing documentation of lawful export and import. They could well find people "coming for their coins" and it is nobody's fault but their own.

Source: Jim Douglas, 'Illegally Smuggled (sic) Military Aircraft, AD-4N Skyraider To End Up At Naval Museum', AvStop Online Magazine January 8, 2012

Vignette: I am not sure if this is the actual plane, but it flies.

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