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Air Force Man Stole Vintage Plane

February 28, 1992
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

A World War II Mustang fighter plane, which gave valuable service to the Israel air force until it was retired 25 years ago, eventually will be returned to the Air Force Museum — but not before the man who stole it goes to jail.

Air force reserve Maj. Arye Yitzhaki was found guilty by the Tel Aviv District Court on Thursday of purloining the vintage aircraft and selling it abroad more than six years ago. Sentence will be pronounced next week.

The propeller-driven plane was parked at a reserve airfield waiting to be moved to the museum when it was first spotted by the major.

After spending time restoring it, he flew it secretly to Sweden, where he illegally sold the antique for $331,000, the prosecution said.

The Swedish company that bought it flew the combat plane for the last six years, though the purpose was not made clear.

The Israeli authorities eventually traced their missing aircraft through Interpol, the international criminal information clearing house. But extensive legal procedures will be necessary before it can be returned.

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