Board lets go of bomber
The National [ June 1, 2006 ]
By JULIA DAIA BORE
THE National Museum and Art Gallery board of trustees decided yesterday that the controversial World War II fighter bomber, Swamp Ghost, be exported to the United States. A special meeting by the board in Port Moresby defied a recent direction from the permanent parliamentary Public Accounts Committee that the plane stays in PNG pending an inquiry set for July 1.
The Swamp Ghost, which had been sitting in the Agaiembo Lake where it crash-landed for 64 years after it was crippled in a raiding mission in Rabaul in 1942, will now go to its new owners, Aero Archaeology Limited.
National museum board chairman Arthur Jawodimbari yesterday said they could not reject an agreement signed with Military Aircraft Restoration Corporation (MARC), because it would be legally and financially costly to the state.
Speaking to reporters after the board deliberations, Mr Jawodimbari said the initial interest by MARC to sign the agreement for ownership of the Swamp Ghost was bought out by AAL a Pennsylvanian firm in December 2001. So, the new owners, rightfully, are the AAL.
The original agreement, signed between the PNG museum and MARC in June 1999, allowed for MARC to salvage the B-17E Flying Fortress. If the five-year execution date was to expire, it was also agreed that the agreement will automatically be renewed for another five years.
Mr Jawodimbari said as it was, that agreement remains valid to 2009. "The US$100,000 (K301,000) held in an Escrow account at Westpac Port Moresby, according to the agreement, will be divided 50% to the state, 25% to the Oro provincial government and 25% to the landowners," Mr Jawodimbari said.