Missing Bombs and Planes

March 5, 1997

Missing Bombs and Planes

A former employee of a Utah Air Force museum has alleged that museum officials covered up the disappearance of a cargo plane, two engines, two missiles, and several laser-guided smart bombs, the Deseret News reported.

Bob Church, a collection specialist at Hill Air Force Base's Aerospace Museum from 1988 to 1993, told Salt Lake City's Deseret News he suspects the military hardware was stolen and museum officials knew about it.

"We have no reason at this point to believe that is the case here," Tech. Sgt. Barbara Fisher, a Hill spokesperson, told the newspaper. "We take any allegations of theft of Air Force property very seriously and aggressively investigate and discipline or prosecute offenders."

Air Force Audit Agency documents obtained by the Deseret News show that it would have been possible for people to steal from the museum because hundreds of items were not logged in inventories. Nationwide, the auditors found 3,800 items missing from Air Force museums.

Church said a C-131 cargo plane disappeared from the museum. He said that in the spring of 1990, a man came to the museum, worked on the plane for a few days, and then flew the plane away. When Church asked for information, he "was told that it was hush-hush and on a need-to-know basis," and that he didn't need to know, Church said. He said records of the plane were destroyed.

Jess McCall, the director-curator of the Fort Douglas Military Museum, also in Utah, said a helicopter sent to Hill by mistake in 1990 was never accounted for. Hill officials originally told him the helicopter was delivered there, but now they say it never was, McCall said.

An Air Force inventory management team is visiting all Air Force museums this year. They will visit Hill in June, Fisher said.

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