Pentagon Rules Out U.S.-Soviet Pilot Exchanges
WASHINGTON (AP) _ The Cold War may be over but the Pentagon says goodwill can go too far.
After learning that a Soviet pilot had been at the controls of a U.S. Navy Blue Angels F/A-18 fighter plane during an impromptu test ride at a July 8 air show at Kalamazoo, Mich., the Defense Department sent word to all the services: Don’t let it happen again.
″I think it’s kind of sad,″ said David Collier, a Kalamazoo air show liaison to the Soviet delegation. He said relations between the Soviets and Americans at an Ohio air show last weekend were markedly cooler because of the Pentagon ruling.
″What started off as a breakthrough in Kalamazoo was treated as cold shoulders in Dayton,″ he said.
Lt. Dave Wray, a Navy spokesman, said the Defense Department ruled that Soviet pilots would not be allowed to fly in any U.S. aircraft, and that no American pilots would fly Soviet planes. Wray said no reason for the prohibition was given.
The Defense Department declined to comment, referring questions to the Navy.
″I don’t think anyone had any concern that a ride in the back seat of an F/A-18 affords even a trained observer a technology leak,″ Wray said, noting that the Blue Angels plane is used only for show flying and for Navy training purposes.
Wray said the Soviet pilot, who is the chief test pilot for the Soviet aircraft designer Mikoyan, was invited for a half-hour ride in the rear seat of the plane, taking the flight controls for part of the trip. To reciprocate, the Soviets took Capt. Pat Moneymaker, the Blue Angels’ commanding officer, for a test ride in a Soviet MiG-29.