Flinn Avoids Court-Martial

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WASHINGTON, D.C.: The Air Force granted Kelly Flinn a general discharge Thursday, forgoing the court-martial proceeding in which she faced up to ten years in prison on charges of adultery, lying and disobedience. Air Force Secretary Sheila Widnall told reoporters the pilot's "lack of integrity" and her "disobediance to orders" were more important issues than the adultery charges. In granting a general discharge, the secretary said she acted to "protect the Air Force core values," adding that Flinn will be required to pay back the cost of her Air Force Academy education. "I don't look at it in terms of a victory . . . I'm satisfied that the resolution we reached in this case is fair," said Widnall. At a subsequent press conference, Flinn's mother said that the family was afraid the Air Force was trying to make an example of the pilot. While a general discharge is a much milder outcome than a dishonorable one, Flinn may never be allowed to fly for the Air Force again, including in the National Guard or military reserves, which Flinn had hoped to do. Still, Flinn seemed pleased with the decision; she left the courtroom afterward with a triumphant smile on her face and a bouquet of red roses. While she can continue her flying career as a commercial airline pilot, the Air Force is losing one of its best in the elite group of 600 B-52 pilots, one who had been recognized as "an outstanding officer and aviator" whose performance stood "head and shoulders above her peers."