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Photo by San Antonio Express News

It doesn’t appear anyone had any hope of the aircraft flying again. They were outfitted to military specifications and the Air Force estimated that converting them to civilian standards and fixing the effects of nine years of neglect would cost upward of $100,000 per plane. But what local pilots couldn’t understand was why the airframes went to the crusher with all their radios, instruments, wheels, tires, brakes, seats and everything else where Slingsby put them, including the Lycoming AEIO-540 engine. Norris Warner, president of the Southwest Regional Fly-In held annually at Hondo, said his group tried to recoup some of the value of the aircraft through a salvage proposal.

Their plan was to strip the planes to the airframe and sell off all the salvaged parts. "None of the planes would have moved. We would have done it right where they were," he said. Once all the engines, avionics and other gear were sold, the group proposed that the proceeds be split between the Fly-In organization, the Air Force and the city of Hondo for airport improvements. The Air Force rejected the idea, citing liability concerns, but Warner said that as far as he knows there could be no liability transferred to the salvaged parts.