Navy Drops Corsair Claim, Cralley Good To Go

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Congressional pressure has forced the U.S. Navy to say "uncle" in a case of David and Goliath. In 1991, vintage plane buff Lex Cralley of Princeton, Minn., went down to Craven County, N.C., and dug up the rusting pieces of a World War II-era Brewster F3A-1 Corsair that had laid abandoned there for 60 years. Cralley, an airline ground services mechanic, hoped to some day rebuild the plane, and had started putting the pieces back together when the Justice Department sued him for stealing the plane from the federal government, and demanded that he give it back to the Navy. Cralley didn't have the money or the stroke to fight the feds, but North Carolina Congressman Walter Jones did. When Rep. Jones heard what was happening, he stepped in and forced the Navy to back down. Jones reported to a grateful Cralley last week that the Navy has now agreed to transfer the title to him via congressional amendment. The House and Senate are expected to pass the measure this summer.