Ex-Navy Photographer Says Crash Photos Sealed To Avoid Publicity
PENSACOLA, Fla. (AP) _ A former Navy photographer said he was transferred from the Blue Angels after he entered photographs of a fatal collision between two jets from the flight demonstration squadron in a photo contest.
Wayne Singleton said the photographs were pulled from the contest because they were embarrassing to the Navy.
Blue Angels’ spokesman Lt. Cmdr. Doug Hocking, however, said Singleton was made available for transfer and the photographs were removed because of their graphic content and his failure to obtain authorization before entering them.
The pictures shoed a 1985 collision during an air show over Niagara Falls, N.Y. One pilot was killed and the other pilot parachuted to safety after the collision, and an investigation blamed pilot error.
Singleton entered the photographs in the 1986 Military Photographer of the Year contest.
Two photos of the crash by Singleton were published Monday in the Pensacola New Journal, which said it received the photos anonymously. The Blue Angels are based at the Pensacola Naval Air Station.
Singleton, now a civilian free-lance photographer reportedly living in Arizona, said he was scheduled for transfer to security guard school on the remote island of Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean but managed to get sent instead to Lakehurst, N.J., and continue in photography until his release.
Blue Angels commanding officer Cmdr. Gil Rud accused Singleton of failing to turn the photos over for use by investigators immediately after the accident and lying when he claimed the film had been lost until after the probe was concluded.
Singleton said he found the film four months after the crash.
Before Singleton left, the Blue Angels ordered him to turn over all copies and negatives of the crash photos, but his boss in New Jersey found a set of the crash pictures in Singleton’s portfolio.
Singleton said he was reduced in rank as a result.