Adultery charge pilot branded 'liar'
By Hugh Davies in Washington

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THE chief-of-staff of the US Air Force branded Kelly Flinn, the B-52 bomber pilot accused of adultery, a "liar" at a Senate hearing yesterday.

This burst of anger from Gen Ronald Fogleman came as a senator ridiculed him for wasting public money pursuing a "showgirl" flying ace for having an affair with a married man.

The general, a highly decorated Vietnam War fighter pilot, snapped back that "the adultery thing" was not the issue. The force was being made to "look ridiculous" because Americans were not being given "the facts".

He said: "What we are doing in the air force is not trying to regulate the sexual mores of America. In the end this is not an issue of adultery. This is an issue about an officer, entrusted to fly nuclear weapons, who disobeyed an order, who lied."

Flinn faces five years in prison for deceiving her superiors by swearing that the relationship was platonic. She is accused of ignoring a colonel's command to end the affair, an offence punishable by a six-month sentence. The charge of adultery and conduct unbecoming an officer could land her in jail for a year, although the usual rule in the air force is to hand out a hefty fine.

The general's outburst indicated that the top brass is willing to risk further embarrassment by pushing ahead with a court martial, rather than throw her out of the service. A trial would be messy for the Pentagon as Flinn's lover, Marc Zigo, a civilian she says is a "rotter" who fooled her with gifts of rings and claims that "I was the love of his life", is threatening to give evidence that tells all about their sexual antics.

He has already given lurid details to military investigators about Flinn's sex life, including descriptions of the frequency and style of her love-making as well as her method of birth control. He has drawn a floor plan of his house to show where they had sex.

In addition, the betrayed wife, Gayla Zigo, a fellow airwoman, is ready to offer testimony. She has urged the Pentagon to show the woman no mercy. In a bitter letter to the Air Force Secretary, Sheila Widnall, she accused Flinn of being a calculating sexual predator at the remote air base in Minot, North Dakota.

In interviews, Flinn has portrayed herself as a lonely woman, resented by wives, who fell madly in love. The wife called her a brazen husband-stealer. "Less than a week after we arrived at the base, Lt Flinn was in bed with my husband having sex." She was "always in her flight suit flaunting the fact that she was an Academy graduate and the first female bomber pilot".

Mrs Zigo said: "How could I compete with her? She had power . . . She also had special status as the first female B-52 pilot. She told me that she wanted to settle down with someone. I didn't know that somebody was my husband."

The wife told the air force of her plight after discovering love letters written by the pilot to her husband. "Lt Flinn did not care about my feelings," she said. "She was just out for herself. I am tired of her acting as if she is the victim, when she is the one who committed the crimes."

13 May 1997: Prosecution over woman pilot's affair 'is injustice'