Female B-52 pilot quits over charges of adultery

Lieutenant Kelly Flinn, the first woman in the United States to fly a B-52 bomber for a living, has decided to seek an honourable discharge from the Air Force rather than face a court martial for adultery.

Her lawyer said she had made the decision to save herself, and the Air Force, further embarrassment.

The case had been due to open at Minot Air Base, North Dakota, tomorrow.

Ms Flinn, whose predicament has rarely been out of the headlines in the past week, became something of a star two years ago when she qualified as the first woman bomber pilot in the US Air Force.

At the end of last year, however, at the age of 26, she was grounded, pending court martial for a catalogue of crimes which included adultery.

If the case was embarrassing for Ms Flinn, whose chequered love-life was picked over by even the most upmarket American newspapers, it was doubly so for the military, as some of its top brass candidly admitted. Their star pupil was in disgrace; upwards of $1m of training had apparently gone to waste.

Now, only a few days after the Air Force denied a report that that it was discreetly suing for peace, a deal appears to have been done. If convicted as charged, Ms Flinn would have faced prison, a dishonourable discharge, and a ban on flying in military or civilian life. An honourable discharge would enable her to take a commercial pilot's job.

The Air Force stands to gain far more: it will avoid having its policies and practices subjected to long and contentious public scrutiny. For if one case exemplified the confused intersection of military discipline and sexual politics in the United States today, this was it.

Ms Flinn's version is briefly this. After Air Force Academy and bomber- training school, she realised her ambition to become a B-52 pilot. Stationed in the freezing, windswept wilds of North Dakota near the Canadian border, she was starved of company. She felt out of place at the officers' club and unwelcome at the wives' club, but she knew the rules.

Men junior or senior to her in her own command were off- limits. She declined to date colleagues of equal rank, regarding it as unprofessional. She had a brief fling with an officer in another command. But last year, she fell in love - innocently, she maintains, but unwisely - with a civilian sports coach who told her - falsely - that he was separated.

The relationship went wrong. She discovered his lie; he drank and turned violent. Ms Flinn's superior officer learnt of the affair and ordered her to end it. She obeyed, then disobeyed when her lover attempted suicide. Then she lied to cover up: a train of events in which one "mistake", as she calls it, triggered a succession of military crimes. Opinion in the civilian world was generally kind to Ms Flinn; but the military - and the Air Force in particular - was fiercely divided. Hardliners maintained that anyone who lies to a superior officer, whatever the circumstances, has no place flying bombers, serving in the Air Force, or in the US forces at all.

Others, however, regarded the court martial as absurd over-reaction, if not sexual discrimination. Ms Flinn, they said, did nothing that countless male officers had got away with, and nothing that some timely advice or at most a reprimand might not have solved. They pointed out that neither of Ms Flinn's admitted liaisons breached fraternisation rules, and that she became aware too late that the second affair was adulterous. This more charitable view, however, comes up against the unimpeachable fact that the law on adultery in the military was enacted not by the forces but by the US Congress. So, if the rules are to change, this is a matter for Congress.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor and Clara have their first real heart to heart since he regenerated in 'Deep Breath'
TV
Life and Style
Apple showed no sign of losing its talent for product launches with the new, slightly larger iPhone 6 making headlines
techSecurity breaches and overhyped start-ups dominated a year in which very little changed (save the size of your phone)
Arts and Entertainment
Jamie Oliver
filmTV chef Jamie Oliver turned down role in The Hobbit
News
The official police photograph of Dustin Diamond taken after he was arrested in Wisconsin
peopleDownfall of the TV star charged with bar stabbing
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Arts and Entertainment
Jeremy Clarkson, left, and Richard Hammond upset the locals in South America
tvReview: Top Gear team flee Patagonia as Christmas special reaches its climax in the style of Butch and Sundance
News
people
Sport
Ashley Barnes of Burnley scores their second goal
footballMan City vs Burnley match report
Arts and Entertainment
Peter Mayhew as Chewbacca alongside Harrison Ford's Han Solo in 'Star Wars'
film
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Man of action: Christian Bale stars in Exodus: Gods and Kings
film
Arts and Entertainment
Tracy Emin's 1998 piece 'My Bed' on display at Christie's
artOne expert claims she did not
News
Ernesto Che Guevara and Fidel Castro, right, met at Havana Golf Club in 1962 to mock the game
newsFidel Castro ridiculed the game – but now investment in leisure resort projects is welcome
News
Hackers revealed Oscar-winning actress Lawrence was paid less than her male co-stars in American Hustle
people
Arts and Entertainment
Clueless? Locked-door mysteries are the ultimate manifestation of the cerebral detective story
booksAs a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor explains the rules of engagement
Sport
Robin van Persie is blocked by Hugo Lloris
footballTottenham vs Manchester United match report
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Business Manager

£32000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Business Manager is required ...

Recruitment Genius: Operations Manager

£45000 - £55000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Panel & Cabinet Wireman

£20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Panel Wireman required for small electro...

Recruitment Genius: Electronics Test Engineer

£25000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An SME based in East Cheshire, ...

Day In a Page

A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

Who remembers that this week we enter the 150th anniversary year of the end of the American Civil War, asks Robert Fisk
Homeless Veterans appeal: Former soldiers pay their respects to a friend who also served

Homeless Veterans appeal

Former soldiers pay their respects to a friend who also served
Downfall of Dustin 'Screech' Diamond, the 'Saved By The Bell' star charged with bar stabbing

Scarred by the bell

The downfall of the TV star charged with bar stabbing
Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

Security breaches and overhyped start-ups dominated a year in which very little changed (save the size of your phone)
Cuba's golf revolution: But will the revolutionary nation take 'bourgeois' game to its heart?

Will revolutionary Cuba take 'bourgeois' golf to its heart?

Fidel Castro ridiculed the game – but now investment in leisure resort projects is welcome
The Locked Room Mysteries: As a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor Otto Penzler explains the rules of engagement

The Locked Room Mysteries

As a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor explains the rules of engagement
Amy Adams on playing painter Margaret Keane in Tim Burton's Big Eyes

How I made myself Keane

Amy Adams hadn’t wanted to take the role of artist Margaret Keane, because she’d had enough of playing victims. But then she had a daughter, and saw the painter in a new light
Ed Richards: Parting view of Ofcom chief. . . we hate jokes on the disabled

Parting view of Ofcom chief... we hate jokes on the disabled

Bad language once got TV viewers irate, inciting calls to broadcasting switchboards. But now there is a worse offender, says retiring head of the media watchdog, Ed Richards
A look back at fashion in 2014: Wear in review

Wear in review

A look back at fashion in 2014
Ian Herbert: My 10 hopes for sport in 2015. Might just one of them happen?

Ian Herbert: My 10 hopes for sport in 2015

Might just one of them happen?
War with Isis: The West needs more than a White Knight

The West needs more than a White Knight

Despite billions spent on weapons, the US has not been able to counter Isis's gruesome tactics, says Patrick Cockburn
Return to Helmand: Private Davey Graham recalls the day he was shot by the Taliban

'The day I was shot by the Taliban'

Private Davey Graham was shot five times during an ambush in 2007 - it was the first, controversial photograph to show the dangers our soldiers faced in Helmand province
Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Many flyers are failing to claim compensation to which they are entitled, a new survey has found
The stories that defined 2014: From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions

The stories that defined 2014

From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations

Disaster looming? Now you know where to head...

Which British city has become the first to be awarded special 'resilience' status by the UN?