Burma signs deal to dig up buried World War II planes

Burma signs deal to dig up buried World War II planes

Published October 17, 2012 – Associated Press

 YANGON, Myanmar –  Burma has signed a deal  with a British aviation enthusiast to allow the excavation of a World War II  treasure: dozens of Spitfire fighter planes buried by the British almost 70  years ago.

Aviation enthusiast David J. Cundall discovered the locations of the aircraft  after years of searching. The planes are believed to be in good condition, since  they were reportedly packed in crates and hidden by British forces to keep them  out of the hands of invading Japanese.

The British Embassy said Wednesday that the agreement was reached after  discussions between President Thein Sein and British Prime Minister David  Cameron during his visit to Burma earlier this year.

The excavation of the rare planes is slated to begin by the end of  October.

The Myanma Ahlin daily reported that the excavation agreement was signed  Tuesday by Director General of Civil Aviation Tin Naing Tun, Cundall on behalf  of his British company DJC, and Htoo Htoo, managing director of Cundall’s Burma  partner, the Shwe Taung Paw company.

“It took 16 years for Mr. David Cundall to locate the planes buried in  crates. We estimate that there are at least 60 Spitfires buried and they are in  good condition,” Htoo Htoo Zaw said.

“This will be the largest number of Spitfires in the world,” he said. “We  want to let people see those historic fighters, and the excavation of these  fighter planes will further strengthen relations between Burma and Britain.”

The British Embassy described the agreement as a chance to work with Burma’s  new reformist government “in uncovering, restoring, displaying these fighter  planes.”

“We hope that many of them will be gracing the skies of Britain and as  discussed, some will be displayed here in Burma,” said an embassy spokesman,  using the old name for Burma.

Burma has since last the past year turned away from many of the repressive  policies of the previous military government and patched up relations with  Western nations that had previously shunned it.

Myanma Ahlin cited Transport Minister Nyan Tun Aung saying the agreement was  a milestone strengthening the friendly relationship between Burma and Britain  and amounts to the British government’s recognition of the democratic reforms of  President Thein Sein’s new government.

Cundall has said his quest to find the planes involved 12 trips to Burma and  the expenditure of more than 130,000 pounds ($210,000).


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