The Federal Aviation Administration is currently seeking comments on a proposed "hangar rule" which seeks to restrict the use of hangars on airport property for the storage and maintenance of flyable aircraft. However, the nation's largest keeper of vintage planes would be put in jeopardy by the proposal.
The Commemorative Air Force (CAF) has scores of warbirds in its care, housed in dozens of museums at airports across the country, from Florida to Alaska. Many of the planes are no longer airworthy, or are in some state of restoration or repair. These museums also house military history artifacts, including tanks, jeeps and ground support vehicles. Admission paid to tour these museums is a major source of revenue for the CAF, and provides funds to "keep 'em flying," as they say.
The CAF owns the world's only remaining flyable B-29 Superfortress, "FiFi."
AvWeb reports that the CAF has asked the FAA for an extension of the September 5th deadline for comment on the ruling. The organization says its museums and shops are in violation, (because they're not solely dedicated to airworthy planes) and fears the new rule may put them out of business.
CAF B-25J "Devil Dog"
The FAA is justified in it's mission to make more hangar space available at airports. In an audit, the FAA found that many hangars are being used solely for storage of household items in spite of waiting lists for hangars at several airports. With very few exceptions such as the Smithsonian National Air & Space Museum in Washington, DC, aviation enthusiasts naturally gravitate toward airports to feed their passion and interest in the field. Airports remain as the best and most easily accessible location for aircraft museums. Hopefully, the FAA and CAF can find a mutually beneficial common ground, because an enforcement of the ruling would jeopardize the longevity and future of these priceless aircraft.
All photos by Paul Thompson