Seized Skyraider Heading To Museum

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A federal judge has ordered an Alabama man to forfeit his AD-4N Skyraider after siding with the Immigration Customs Enforcement (ICE) branch of the Department of Homeland Security that the Vietnam-era close support aircraft was illegally imported to the U.S. ICE is turning the Skyraider over to the Navy for display in the National Naval Aviation Museum in Pensacola. As we reported in 2009, ICE agents seized the aircraft, which is in good flying condition, from Claude Hendrickson. In a news release, ICE said the aircraft and parts, including four 20-mm cannons, were "smuggled" into the U.S. because the plane is a "defense article" and Hendrickson hadn't done the required paperwork to import it and his hired pilot lied about it to customs agents. "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." When the feds initially took the aircraft, Hendrickson started a website. The site does not make reference to the Dec. 21 court ruling and Hendrickson did not immediately respond to an e-mail inquiry Sunday evening.

According to ICE, the pilot of the aircraft gave false information to border agents at Buffalo, N.Y., during the ferry flight from France. ICE agents also searched a shipping container being sent to Hendrickson's business and found the four cannons along with other parts. "The 20-mm 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," ICE said in its news release.