Warbirds Safe, For Now

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Warbirds and other surplus military equipment in private hands appear safe, at least for this year, from the Bush administration's fixation with destroying the historic items. Every year, the White House tries to include, as part of the defense authorization bill, a section that would require owners of warbirds and other ex-military equipment to "demilitarize" the items at their own expense. The wording is found in S. 1050 and H.R. 1588. It's generally agreed that means destroying them. But each year, the Senate and the House, after prompting from the various associations that owners of these things belong to, delete that section from the bill. That happened this year in May but apparently some media outlets got hold of the wrong bill, which still included the demilitarization clause, and reported that warbirds were at risk. Both AOPA and EAA issued statements last week saying the immediate danger is over but plans are in the works to end the political cat-and-mouse game for once and for all. EAA and Warbirds of America want to meet with House and Senate officials to draft legislation that would protect warbirds from demilitarization bills.