Feds arrest man for possession of a "rocket launcher"

Unbelievable!!! Last week, a civilian-owned soviet-era fighter jet crashed, killing the pilot. Yesterday, the company involved with that
jet is raided by a "joint task force", but they claim it is unrelated to the jet crash. The "task force" includes such celebrities as BATFE, FBI, US Marshals, DEA, US Fish & Wildlife, US Immigrations & Customs, IRS, US Air Force, and the State Police. What a showing! They arrest one of the guys at this company for possession of a rocket launch pod (not a rocket... just the launcher that hangs under the wing of your personal fighter jet). They claim it is an "unregistered explosive device". Go see the full story at the following news sites...
http://www.ktuu.com/cms/anmviewer.asp?a440&z=1
http://www.ktva.com/topstory/ci_3470363
Watch out, they may be coming after your Port-A-Pad next!!! -Scott
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boy, the first link below has some really odd wording! after reading it twice. the story is more like.
a repo man came and tried to collect a soviet jet, and crashed while trying to return it. I want to hear more about this story. $10 says that the jet was in need of repairs and the pilot didn't find out until he was airborne

yeah, i wonder why they think it is suspiscious. I don't see any relation either

Since this is In alaska, I'll assume that means both local government officers were involved

hmmmm, this doesnt make sense at all. maybe the two Officers had it in for the guy, or maybe the guy was a bigger jerk than lunarlos. or maybe the charges will get dropped(most likely)
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My first thought was: Yeah, that's how cars are often repo'd, but jets? No self-respecting pilot flies a bird without pre-flight, and without the proper preparation and training. Something tells me this "hotshot" didn't have all this. In the hurry of doing a repo, I doubt there was anything close to a proper preflight.
Doug
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On Fri, 3 Feb 2006 17:21:23 +0000 (UTC), "Doug Sams"

I think you are off track. The article said the jet repo story is unrelated to the joint task force story. The NTSB was not even listed as being involved in the task force.
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Tater wrote:

I wrote:

Alan wrote:

Alan,
Are you sure you're replying to the right post?
All I'm saying here is that if repo'ing a plane is anything like repo'ing a car, the pilot likely has to cut a lot of corners and take lots of un-pilot-like risks.
Doug
    
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wrote:

Yes. Of the two tracks, "Feds arrest man for posession of "rocket launcher" is the one that is on track.

I know what you said, but it is obvious that neither of us is knowledgable of repossessing aircraft, and your discussion of the off track only diverts attention from any on track discussion. Of course you could try advancing the theory that the joint task force is just an NTSB conspiracy to seize materials for the accident investigation without revealing direct NTSB involvement. You'd need Executive level power to make that one fly. ;)

    
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This reply is to several posts, so it may seem out of the "tree" in places.
There are always 2 sides to the story and it's interesting to hear the version posted by Hugh. My co-worker is a friend of the owner of Security Aviation and used to fly Medevacs with that company, so I have the other side of the story. They want to purchase 8 of these old jets, but when the disassembled planes arrive they are in poor shape and have no manuals or logbooks to go with them. The planes were assembled by an old mechanic "from memory" but there were too many things wrong and there was no pilot working for the company that would attempt to fly them. Security Aviation tried to get manuals and such from Air USA, who refused to supply them, so they basically ended the deal at that point and asked for their money back, which was refused. At that point it turned into a "money back" - "product back" debate.
Last week, a couple pilots showed up waving badges and claiming to be customs inspectors from Montana that were here to impound the planes. After the fact, we have learned that these pilots are former Marine aviators from California. They did their "pre-flights" and prepped 2 of the planes for the trip back to the states, against the advice of mechanics and officials of Security Aviation who warned them that the planes were not airworthy. The 2 departed Anchorage anyway, without filing any flight plans, and later both planes were forced down in Ketchikan due to unknown problems with one landing successfully and the other crashing into a trailer park with the pilot ejecting at tree level. His chute didn't deploy and he died on impact. He did manage to put the plane into the only empty spot between 2 trailer houses (by luck or skill we will never know) so that no one on the ground was seriously injured. That crash promptly stirred public debate over how a private company could own "fighter jets" and there were calls for investigation over what they need the jets for. I'm sure the recent terrorist threats to blow up the pipeline added fuel to the public outcry with folks asking if terrorists could get these jets and attack the pipeline or terminal with them. You know how the public can overreact with a little prodding from the media. Next thing you know, a "task force" of 9 Federal and State agencies is descending upon this company like flies (oh, but this is totally unrelated to the crash) with the full body cavity searches and such. It is interesting to note that neither the FAA nor the NTSB were involved in the raids, however folks like the IRS and Fish-n-Feathers showed up. Nothing like a good witch burning to bring out the locals ya know.
As for the rocket pod launcher, while they may be able to find some technicality in the description to classify it as a device requiring registration, it seems like a case of the cop pulling you over at 2am for having a marker light out in an attempt to discover that you are doing something else illegal, but without actual evidence or cause indicating that you are doing anything wrong. The "raids" on Security Aviation and the 22 related companies continues. It will probably continue until they've either uncovered whatever wrongdoing might be going on... if any. Oh, and if these rocket pods were illegal, why didn't the Air USA company that actually still owns the jets get nailed? It's also interesting to note that the ejection seats in these planes are installed and apparently operational. Is that a registered item? It IS a rocket and launcher all in one. (yes, I'm being facetious)
Finally, reference the comment on the "2 government officials" for Alaska. Please go take your globe and superimpose Alaska over the rest of the United States. You'll see that it stretches from Florida to California in width (including the Aleutians) and from the Dakotas to Texas in height. With nearly 600,000 square miles of land and more coastline than all the rest of the US combined, there are actually about 420 State Police officers and support personnel and they are spread as thin as you could possibly imagine. During my 450 mile commute to work (every 2 weeks) on the "busiest" highways in the state, I'm lucky to see even 2 officers along the way. Oh, and there are no igloos either.
-Scott
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Not sure if you're being facetious. The crash isn't necessarily connected to the raid, but the repo is. While the two aren't intrinsically connected, the fact that a company has recently had a newsworthy repo - a sure sign of fiscal distress - and then a raid, is worth bringing up. Skipping on payments and breaking the law are both signs of bad management. Also signs of criminal activity :) But it remains to be see if there was a genuine criminal activity. I'd hate to think my upscale Tilt-A- Pad was gonna get me arrested :)
Doug
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L-39 Albatros is a *Czech* light jet/trainer,very low-performance. They have urgraded them to L-59 and L-159 models with Westernized avionics.
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Jim Yanik
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Air USA is located in Quincy, IL USA. (about 100 miles north of St. Louis) Fairly large article in the local Quincy Herald-Whig newspaper recently
They had sold some block 1 L-39's to company in Alaska.
An order was placed for 4 block 2 (1990's) production L-39 and these were shipped disassembled and crated to Alaska.
Apparently arrived in bad condition and Air USA did not have English translations of the manuals and the Air USA tech that arrived to assemble and certify them were having problems.
Then checks started bouncing or payments with held etc etc.
Then Air USA sent 4 pilots to Alaska to repo the planes. Apparently one was unflyable so they attempted to fly out the other three.
One report was that they had no ability to test the pyro charges in the ejection seats. That may have been a factor in the death of the pilot.
Don Kirlin, owner of Air USA is an interesting local person!
A fair number of these L-39 have had problems, one of their test pilots took as dive into the Great Lakes from 38K some years ago on a flight the day before an sir show. No radio messages etc, no transponder emergency squawk etc. Aircraft not recovered, 2 dead. Some suspected CO poisoning / O2 system failure.
L-39 = Albatross Who ever names this plane never read Mobey Dick, O wait maybe he did.
Hugh Inactive pilot, former owner 41 Tcraft RC Pilot, sometimes rocket builder Quincy
Tater Schuld wrote:

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Those rocket tube launchers you see at the guns shows are inert single use expended devices.
If they were the ones designed to load up many times, if you had an empty rocket launcher as defined in he orange book, you would need to register it.
Military Copters and Jet Fighters have to be de-milled or they need to be registered.
Since they were in Alaska and a corporation, that would be possible to do, just cost money.
Having the pod on the plane makes the whole plane a military rocket launcher just missing the ammo. It would need to be registered.
Our hobby and scientific rockets do not meet the definition of rocket in the orange book, so no soon will be looking at our porta-pads or our x-pads.
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I think the only time a rocket is destructive device is if you put warheads in it....
-- TAI FU
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they only time a hobby rocket would be a destructive device is if you put a warhead on it, yes.
however, much military hardware is "part" of a destructive device.
even if the "ammo" is missing.
A perfect example is the M203 Grenade launcher.
Heck, it's just an empty tube... etc..

warheads
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No,it's a smoothbore firearm with a bore diameter larger than allowed. (I think 12 Gauge boresize is the max.) It's got a trigger,and a striker to fire the primer on the 40mm round it uses.It shoots just like a shotgun.
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Yes you are correct Jim.
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And it used to be named M79 back in the Vietnam time, as I carried one.
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Isn't the M79 a 40MM stand alone shotgun like unit while the M203 is the under part of an over and under M16 .223 and the 40MM Grenade Launcher. I remember the first M203 I ever saw. The Seal team embarked on our ship had them and they let some of us fire them from the fantail. Oh and the 10 Gauge is legal at least in the state I live in.
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William Richardson ENC USNR Ret.
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I've not seen up close the new whatever they are, but I carried the good old M79 with lots of ammo belts and it was one heck of a baby. Ya, stand alone, shotgun style, HE,WP,Shotgun rounds for it.
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The Lone Sidewalk Astronomer of Rosamond
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wrote in

Hi Jim,
I got to thinking about the smoothbore definition and remembered the legal IMP.
http://37mm.com /
The 37mm is not a firearm, yet the 40mm M203 is.
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wrote in

Upon further reading at that link,IF you have bean-bag or other "anti- personnel" ammo,then the 37mm is a destructive device according to F-troop.

Thanks for the link,I'll do some closer reading later.
I'm surprised that the 40 and 37mm launchers also do not fall under the prohibition of smoothbores with a barrel under 18 inches long("sawed-off shotguns)and an OAL of not less than 26 inches.
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