Thieves were apparently in search of scrap metal when they made off with two irreplaceable vintage aircraft wings from a storage yard used by the Wingspan Aviation Heritage Foundation in Mesa, Ariz. When the theft was discovered, about a week ago, foundation director Robert Kropp went to the media in hopes of uncovering information about the wings' fate -- and he got lucky. An anonymous tipster led Kropp and police directly to both wings, hidden in two separate remote locations in the desert. "I really feel like I found a winning lottery ticket in the street," Kropp told The Arizona Republic. "I'm just absolutely elated. Without the media exposure, it was gone, baby, gone." The wings, from a 1940s-era Lockheed T-33 trainer and a 1950s Lockheed PV-2 bomber, were found intact and police dusted them for fingerprints.
The wings now are secured in a locked location, and the foundation plans to reattach them to their aircraft as soon as possible and improve security. "It was a big learning curve to see how insidious these metal thieves are," Kropp told the Republic. "I really was so fortunate."