War relic to be exported
Post Courier [ January 21, 2010 | Read Article online ]
Alfred Hagen, the elusive American who is shipping PNG’s world famous war relic “Swamp Ghost” to the US, left Lae yesterday after overseeing the loading of the ghost on shipping containers.
The containers are at the Lae main wharf but shipping sources are unaware of the ship they will be loaded on or their final destination.
The aircraft was yesterday taken out of the Voco Point timber yard of PNG Forest Products, where it has been sitting for the past three years and loaded into three semi-trailers.
The aircraft was dismantled and packed when Mr Hagen arrived in Lae. He was booked into the Lae International Hotel from January 14 to 20 and took yesterday’s midday flight to Port Moresby.
Mr Hagen, from Philadelphia, set up Aero Archeology Ltd in 2000 to recover the relic.
Despite a massive public campaign to stop the export of the wreck, the National Government relented to threats of court action by Mr Hagen and allowed the export to proceed.
It is understood that clearance for the export was given on Sept 10, 2010 by the National Executive Council, against the recommendations of the Public Accounts Committee, which in 2006 had found that the salvage from the Agiambo Swamp in Northern Province was illegal.
Agiambo landowner chief Alan Jojoga last week said he, at the behest of Tourism Minister Charles Abel, had accepted the offer of K300,000 from Mr Hagen to be deposited into a trust account.
The Swamp Ghost, officially known as B17-E serial number 41-2446, was accepted into the US Army on Dec 6, 1941.
It was part of a nine-bomber raid of shipping in Rabaul’s Simpson Harbour on the night of February 22, 1942. During the attack, it was hit by an anti-aircraft shell which passed through its right wing but did not explode.
The aircraft tried to return to Port Moresby’s 7-Mile drome but ran out of fuel and the pilot Capt Henry “Hotfoot” Eaton Jr landed in what he thought was kunai grass.
Instead, he had landed in a swamp and his crew walked away from the crash site, with assistance from local villagers and Australian resident magistrate Alan Champion