By Mary Grady, Contributing Editor
The dispute over the future of a rare F-82 Twin Mustang that has long been operated by the Commemorative Air Force (CAF) will go back to court, the CAF says. The case has already been heard by a district court in Ohio, which ruled that the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force, which wants to claim ownership of the aircraft, has the right to do so. CAF says it will appeal that decision. CAF says they fear that if the museum takes control of it, the airplane will never fly again. If CAF is allowed to keep it, they say, they have a donor who is ready to fund the restoration of the airplane to flying condition. It hasn't flown since it was damaged in a 1986 accident, but prior to that it flew for nearly 20 years, appearing in hundreds of airshows around the country.
Rob Bardua, spokesman for the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force, told AVweb on Wednesday, "Since litigation is still pending, on the advice of our counsel, we are not able to comment at this time." According to court documents filed in the earlier case, the museum argued that federal regulations that pertain to military aircraft would make it impossible for the government to give the airplane unconditionally to CAF. "The CAF could not acquire complete title to the aircraft no matter what the actions of the Air Force Officers and civilian employees were," the U.S. Air Force told the court.
The airplane originally came to the museum's attention in 2002 when CAF said it was going to trade it for a Mustang. The museum said the CAF couldn't do that. Subsequently CAF said it would keep the airplane and restore it, but the USAF did not relinquish its claim. The USAF museum is located at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base near Dayton, Ohio. Click here for a PDF of the Motion of the Secretary of the Air Force for Summary Judgment as filed to the district court, and click here for a PDF of the judgment of the court.