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Sun, Nov 02, 2008

US Navy Blue Angels Pilot Lands In Hot Water

'Inappropriate Relationship' With Squadron Member Leads To Disciplinary Action

With only three airshows left in the 2008 season, the US Navy Blue Angels will have to make do with one less jet in the performances after two squadron members were removed from duty for having an 'inappropriate relationship.'

Refusing to name the parties in question, Capt. Tyson Dunkelberger, Public Affairs Officer for the Blue Angels, Thursday said simply that the relationship was between a man and a woman. The 133-member squadron consists of 110 men and 23 women; all six of the F/A-18 demonstration team pilots are men.

Dunkelberger added a military administrative hearing is pending to determine further disciplinary actions, which could include removal from the military, the Associated Press reported.

Dunkelberger said the squadron will conduct its last three air shows in November with only five jets instead of the usual six. Blue #4 will be the missing aircraft, though officials stated that does not necessarily mean the #4 pilot is the suspended aviator.

The flight demonstration team is scheduled to perform in San Antonio, TX this weekend, the Kennedy Space Center the next and will close the 2008 season with performances at NAS Pensacola the following weekend.

The Blue Angels were established in 1946 as a demonstration team and recruitment tool for the US Navy by then Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, and now perform for approximately 15 million spectators annually.

From 1986 to the present, the Blue Angels have flown F/A-18 Hornets, with their current fleet including 10 F/A-18As and two F/A-18B two-seat models.

This isn't the first time a Blue Angels demonstration pilot has been removed from flight duty over a relationship with another team member. Military.com reports that in 2000, the Marine Corps officer flying Blue Angel No. 2 was removed from the team for conducting an "inappropriate relationship" with the team's female public affairs officer.

FMI: www.blueangels.navy.mil

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