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CAF Loses Court Fight to Keep P-82

The United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit has ruled in favor of the National Museum of the United States Air Force (USAFM) in the ownership dispute of the P-82 Twin Mustang. While the ruling by the Court of Appeals supports the original judgment of the District Court in July of 2009, Commemorative Air Force (CAF) officials are disappointed by the outcome.

“We had hoped that the de novo review would end in favor of the CAF,” said CAF President Stephan Brown. “After countless hours of dedication on behalf of the CAF, our member volunteers and staff are disheartened by the decision of the Court to place the P-82 in the hands of the USAFM permanently. Despite our extensive documentation of ownership, the plane has been returned to the USAFM as directed by the District Court in July.”

The documentation in the CAF’s possession chronicles the history of the P-82 and includes a “Donation Certificate” issued in 1966. This certificate transferred physical possession of the aircraft from the USAF to the CAF. Also included is a “Transfer Certificate” issued in 1968 that confirmed the CAF’s request to fly the airplane and stated, “This will certify that F-82B aircraft Air Force serial number 44-65162 has been officially donated by the Air Force to the (CAF), Mercedes, Texas, under the provisions of 10 USC 2572.” The “Transfer Certificate” allowed the CAF to establish title to the aircraft for the purpose of obtaining FAA certification and license for operation.

The P-82 Twin Mustang joined the CAF Ghost Squadron in 1966 and was flown in support of the CAF’s mission to honor American military aviation for 20 years, before it was damaged in an accident in 1987. Since the aircraft’s accident, the CAF had been searching within its membership for someone willing to help restore the aircraft. This P-82 would have been the only flying Twin Mustang in the world had the CAF had the opportunity to proceed with restoration.

Despite the non-flying status of the P-82, throughout its stay with the CAF it was an integral part in the education of military aviation history. Since 1987, the P-82 was kept in the hangar at CAF International Headquarters, where it was viewed by CAF Airpower Museum and AIRSHO visitors.
 
The Commemorative Air Force (CAF) ranks as one of the largest private air forces in the world. A non-profit educational association, the CAF has approximately 9,000 members and a fleet of 156 airplanes distributed throughout the country to 74 units located in 27 states for care and operation.

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