Friday, September 24, 2004

 

why did bush stop flying?

Janet Linke has been thinking about George W. Bush a lot lately. Thirty-two years ago, her late husband Jan Peter Linke served briefly in the Texas Air National Guard's 111th Fighter Interceptor Squadron. According to Linke… Bush's flying career was permanently disabled by a crippling fear of flying.

Linke's husband was admitted to the Texas Guard in the summer of 1972 to replace Bush. Bush has said that he stopped flying fighter jets because the Alabama Guard unit didn't have jets, and he wanted to transfer to Alabama in order to work on a political campaign. But Linke says she heard a different story from her husband and Bush's squad commander, the late Lt. Col. Jerry Killian. Shortly after her husband joined the Texas unit, Linke says, the couple discussed Bush's service with Killian at a social event. Contrary to some news reports that suggest Killian admired Bush, Linke says the officer didn't have much use for the young Lieutenant. He mentioned that Bush appeared to have a drinking problem, she recalls, but he was most offended by another incapacity: his fear of flying. According to Linke, Killian said Bush was grounded in his fourth year of flying after he became incapable of flying or properly landing a plane. "He was mucking up bad, Killian told us," Linke says. "He just became afraid to fly."

…flight logs released by the White House three weeks ago in response to a lawsuit by the Associated Press (link below) show a strange retraction of Bush's air time around that period. In February and March 1972, Bush switched from flying the F102A fighter jet, which the guard used to patrol U.S. borders, to a two-seat T-33 training jet. His superiors also returned him to flight simulator practice sessions. But records suggest the extra training sessions didn't help. Logs show that in March and April 1972, Bush twice needed multiple tries to land the F102 fighter. Days later, on April 16, Bush piloted a plane for the Texas Air National Guard for the last time. "He just couldn't cut it," says Linke. "I was let to believe he was kind of a coward." (Folio Weekly was able to reach two former Bush squadmates in Texas, but both declined to be interviewed.) In May 1972, Bush left Texas. He headed to Alabama, where he requested assignment with the postal reserve unit. Bush's request was initially denied. Bu in August 1972, Killian stripped Bush of his flying duties for failing to take an annual physical. In September he was ordered to taken an administrative post with the Alabama Guard.
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