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Security Aviation Gets Most Of Its Planes Back

Will Continue With Attempt To Win Military Contract

by ANN Contributor Rob Stapleton, Alaska Journal of Commerce

The ongoing saga of Security Aviation and its bout with the federal authorities took a turn for the better on Friday, April 14, when they received six of their Czech built L-39 aircraft back from the US Marshall's custody. The Czech built L-39 aircraft, parked in a row, sat on the tarmac in front of Security Aviation gleaming in the spring sun, reflecting the peaks of the Chugach Mountains from their polished nose cones.

"We don't know why they kept the other two, I guess they think they are set up for arms or something," said Dave Bean, senior vice president of Security Aviation.

The aircraft were towed back to Security Aviations hangar at South Airpark by tugs, from the Federal Aviation Administration hangar next to the Alaska Airlines hangar near the South Terminal the morning of April 14. The US Marshall's office took possession of the L-39 jet aircraft after the FBI seized them in February, claiming that a comrade of Security's owner, Rob Kane illegally transported and possessed a rocket pod launchers intended for one of the jets.

While the FBI was inspecting the aircraft, Kane spent nearly a month in jail.

The L-39 aircraft were to be used for a niche market described as extreme attitude and engagement training, by Joe Griffith -- a Security consultant, former Air Force test pilot, and Chairman of Chugach Electric.

"Its good to have the birds home," said Griffith, dressed in Air Force-like dark blue clothing and a baseball cap.

Security's Bean says that now that the aircraft have been returned that it will continue with the High Security Aviation business plan.

"We are going to work to get these aircraft airworthy," said Bean. "Then by May 5 or 6 we are going to make a run at the military training contracts. We want to make it perfectly clear that there is nothing covert going on over here."

According to Security maintenance officials several of the six aircraft returned were missing inspection plates, one was missing a nose cone, and others may have been damaged in the move.

Now that six of the original 10 aircraft have returned Security may have a chance to re-group and win a military contract.

But, what about the other four L-39 MS aircraft, and the one that earlier crashed in Ketchikan?

According to Bean, Avery says that there will be civil action against the company, Air USA, who stole their aircraft.

On Jan. 25 Stephen Freeman a former US Marine, and a US Customs pilot, and another unidentified pilot took two of the L-39 aircraft from Palmer and flew to Sitka. The unidentified pilot left his L-39 in Sitka, but Freeman continued south and later diverted to Ketchikan.

Freeman was cleared for an instrument approach into Ketchikan International Airport but lost control of the jet, ejected into the woods south of Ketchikan. The jet crashed into a trailer park. Freeman was found dead about 150 yards from the aircraft still strapped to his ejection seat.

Two of the aircraft are still in Palmer, one is sitting in Sitka and Security is out nearly $2 million, and can't use the aircraft.

Griffith earlier said that both the Palmer Police Department, and the FAA had been warned that the aircraft were not airworthy were owned by Security, and that they were being taken without their permission. No one dared to lift a finger, according to Security officials.

According to Griffith and Bean, Security Aviation paid $1 million for the L-39 MS aircraft, and had agreed to pay an additional $1.3 million once the aircraft were complete and airworthy.

"I can tell you this," said Bean. "That if Griff said they were not airworthy then they weren't." The rub between Air USA and Security came when the aircraft could not be made airworthy because they did not have manuals in English, but in Czech.

Avery refused to pay the outstanding amount until Air USA coughed up the manuals. Griffith refused to fly the jets, and ordered them parked and sealed up.

The FAA requires a bill of sale and full manuals on aircraft to re-register them, according to the local FAA Flight Safety District Office. Until Security had the manuals, and the bill of sale, the experimental exhibition aircraft could not be re-registered and flown.

According to Bean, Security had offered an additional $1.3 million to Air USA to speed up the sale, so they could ramp up for the military contracts.

Security Aviation employs nearly 100 employees, has 18 aircraft and continues to operate as the lift for Aeromed International.



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