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History-making bomber pilot faces court martial on adultery charges

March 28, 1997

MINOT, N.D. (AP) _ Lt. Kelly Flinn realized her teen-age dream of flying and more, becoming the nation’s first woman bomber pilot. Now that dream is threatened by allegations of adultery.

Flinn, who is single, is accused of having sex with a married, lower-ranking airman, lying to investigators and disobeying an order to stay away from the man. Her court martial is set for May 20 at Minot Air Force Base.

If convicted, Flinn could receive sanctions ranging from a reprimand to dishonorable discharge.

``In the military, we’re committed to the highest standards. We’re committed to integrity, and adultery is counter to that,″ said Air Force spokesman Capt. Leo Devine.

Flinn’s lawyer, Frank J. Spinner, refused to make her available for an interview.

Air Force authorities began investigating Flinn last year and brought charges last month. She was told Dec. 13 to stay away from the man, who has not been identified, and is accused of violating the order sometime before Jan. 24.

Flinn, who remains on active duty, told investigators ``nothing intimate or sexual has ever occurred,″ according to Air Force documents.

The airman has not been charged. Sexual misconduct cases are typically targeted at the higher-ranking person.

``The higher-ranking person is expected to have a higher maturity level,″ said Capt. Mark Phillips, a spokesman for the 8th Air Force. ``They also are the ones who have the most power to avoid any of those circumstances.″

Air Force officials said the alleged fling creates the perception that the airman could get an unfair professional edge from the affair.

Flinn, a 1993 Air Force Academy graduate in her 20s, has said her interest in flying began at 14, when she was named outstanding camper at the Space Camp in Huntsville, Ala. Of 60 campers, only five were girls.

``From that moment on, I was gung-ho Air Force, the academy and pilot training,″ Flinn said in 1995.

And after watching a space shuttle flight, she said, ``I became intrigued with the sky and space.″

In 1995, she became the first woman qualified to fly the aging B-52 bomber. Flinn said she had to lift weights and increase her stamina to handle the plane.

``She had everything going for her. I just can’t understand why she did it,″ Phillip Poyner, an Air Force veteran in Minot, a town of 35,000 about 90 miles north of Bismarck. ``She was on the fast track. She could have made rank just like that.″

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