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Q-talk 94 - Registration Lessons

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Darrell Daniels Kirksville, MO

I guess I should start by telling everyone how I purchased my airplane so they will know why I had a problem with the registration.

My airplane was flown into our Missouri airport with a burnt valve. The airplane's owner stripped the airplane and was going to cut the shell up to avoid liability. Luckily, a local pilot arrived in time to talk him out of it. They came to an agreement and the pilot from our airport took over the airplane. I always wanted one of these airplanes so I went to the new owner's house and requested to buy it. By this time, he had decided to donate the airplane to an Iowa church that his daughter attended. He contacted the church and after deciding on a price, I purchased the airplane even before it was delivered to them.

Upon getting my airplane home, I phoned the FAA and asked what I needed to do to register it. I was told I would need to contact Oklahoma City directly and work from there. They did not know if it could be done this way. The former owner and builder did not want anything to do with the airplane. He even removed the identification plate. That did not make the FAA rep very happy.

To start the process, we had to have the FAA do a background check on the airplane N number. It provided the builders' name, telephone number and address. I then had to send a certified letter to the builder. I also sent a letter by regular mail, with a receipt. I attempted to call the builder and kept a copy of the telephone bill to prove the phone call. All of this was required to prove I did, in fact, make a honest attempt to contact the builder. You have to prove a paper trail to the last owner. Just because he does not participate does not mean you can skip this step. The builder of my plane had changed his phone number and the letters were returned.

Now that I had proof of trying to contact the previous owner, I was not sure what to do next. I phoned AOPA and for a very modest $45 fee, they would file the paperwork for me and do all of the talking to the FAA. Believe me, this was well worth doing.

AOPA then sent me a bill of sale for the church to complete and have notarized. I also had to have the local pilot, who donated the airplane to the church, fill out paperwork and have it notarized. Along with these documents, I sent a copy of the cancelled check.

Once all of this was submitted to the FAA, I was sent notice that three signed and notarized affidavits were needed. It took several attempts to get the number requested and worded in a way to comply with the law. One affidavit was to be from a church official stating how they received the aircraft. Another had to come from the donating pilot, explaining in great detail how he obtained the aircraft. All affidavits had to be specific in detail.

After FAA received the documents, it took 4 to 6 weeks to be notified of the next step. There were no set guidelines as AOPA had not done this exact process before. They were great, though, saying that if we just keep doing what FAA asked, we would eventually get the plane registered. I could not have accomplished this without them. If anyone has any specific questions about the process, I would be happy to try to answer them. I hope this will help someone.

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