In its day, the Douglas AD Skyraider was a deadly aircraft, among the last propeller driven ground attack bombers employed by the United States Navy.
These days of course, the few remaining Skyraiders are valuable antiques of no military value. Unfortunately for Claude Hendrickson, who owns one of the last flightworthy Skyraiders, the Transportation Security Administration lacks an appreciation for aviation history.
The Department of Homeland Security recently notified a pilot, an EAA Warbirds of America (WOA) member and owner of a Douglas AD-4N Skyraider, that it intended to confiscate his recently imported aircraft. The Department alleges that necessary forms were improperly filed. Last week federal agents from Immigration and Customs Enforcement seized and threatened to destroy this rare piece of our nation’s aviation heritage. The airplane remains in a secured hangar at the member’s home airport.
According to other sources, Mr. Hendrickson cleared customs and was told his paperwork checked out when he brought the plane home from France last year. The Skyraider was registered with the FAA, which issued permits and a flight number to Hendrickson.
Assuming that Hendrickson is really a collector of antique warplanes who's guilty of improper filing of a form, and not a terrorist, impounding and threatening to destroy his unique bird does seem rather excessive. One assumes most legitimate pilots would be given a deficiency notice and told to correct their filings. But in the battle between TSA bureaucrats and world terror, the notion of excess often goes out the window.
There may well be more to the story, and perhaps a perfectly innocent explanation for TSA's seizure and threatened destruction of Claude Hendrickson's piece of military history. But since the TSA isn't talking and Hendrickson is, he gets to tell the story. So far, it isn't a pretty one.
You can read more at Hendrickson's weblog, which is devoted to the Skyraider and his efforts to recover it.