Pentagon Defends Air Record

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WASHINGTON: Defense Secretary William Cohen's decision to ground military training flights for a safety review, along with the five air accidents in as many days that prompted it, may give the impression that something has gone seriously wrong with the U.S. military's flying machines. Not so, says the Pentagon. Statistics released Wednesday show that their air safety record is actually improving: There have been 1.5 accidents per 100,000 hours of flying so far this year, down from 1.53 two years ago. TIME's Pentagon correspondent Mark Thompson backs this up: “This rash of accidents in a short space of time is simply a coincidence,” he says. Still, it can't hurt to take the planes down and go through safety procedures with the recruits: Investigators believe most of the recent crashes were caused by pilot error.