The Swamp Ghost

Swamp Ghost stalled
Post Courier [ May 24, 2006 ]
by Jessie Lapou

THE Government has moved to stop the export of the wreck of a World War II B17E bomber from Northern Province through Lae. Acting Prime Minister Sir Moi Avei, announced last night the Government would review the decision by the National Museum and Art Gallery Board of Trustees to approve the shipment of the aircraft. Earlier, the Public Accounts Committee also ordered the relic be detained pending a public inquiry on July 1. Acting Prime Minister, Sir Moi Avei announced last night that the Government will review the decision by the National Museum and Art Gallery Board of Trustees to approve the shipment from Papua New Guinea of a WWII B17E bomber aircraft. This followed media reports yesterday that the aircraft, nicknamed “Swamp Ghost”, had been removed from its resting place in a dry swamp-bed in the Northern Province for 64 years. The bomber has remained largely intact, having crash landed in the lake after running out of fuel while returning from a bombing operation to Rabaul during the war. Earlier yesterday, the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), which investigates use of public money and property, ordered the Internal Revenue Commissioner David Sode to have customs officers stop the plane from being shipped to the United States from Lae where it wings have been dismantled. Sir Moi said: “Like many Papua New Guineans, I was shocked to learn that Papua New Guinea would lose this very important relic from her World War II past.” He said he had directed the Minister for Culture and Tourism David Basua to use whatever powers available to the Government to suspend the shipment. PAC chairman John Hickey said he was informed of the matter last Friday and ordered an unofficial inquiry with the Museum’s acting director Simon Poraituk on the grounds for the Museum’s board of trustees to have the plane salvaged and restored overseas. “I am alarmed that the plane has been removed,” said Mr Hickey. “I am disappointed with the management of the museum and the National Museum and Art Gallery board of trustees,” he said. Mr Sode has confirmed receiving instructions from PAC and said that the plane would not be given any clearance to be exported. Mr Sode said PAC would be conducting their investigation and they (IRC) would be doing their own investigation, as was their normal routine before a permit was given.


          B-17E 41-2446 art by Jack Fellows via IHRP

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