November 2, 2008
No. 4 jet missing from Blue Angels
Navy won't say whether major under investigation for 'inappropriate relationship"
Pensacola News Journal
The Blue Angels' signature "diamond" formation was reduced to a triangle Saturday at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio — the No. 4 jet absent from its spot in the slot position.
Last week, the Navy announced that two members of the flight demonstration team — a pilot and a nonpilot — were relieved of duty because of an alleged "inappropriate relationship."
Marine Corps Maj. Clint Harris pilots the No. 4 jet.
Saturday night, Marine Corps Capt. Tyson Dunkelberger, spokesman for the team, would not say whether Harris was the pilot removed from the flight team.
"You can draw whatever inferences you want," Dunkelberger said. "Due to the administrative nature of this case, we are not at liberty to release the names, ranks or the positions of anyone on the team that could lead anyone to find out, by name, who was involved.
"At this point, it's still alleged. The proceedings haven't even started yet. If there is a punishment, that will be handed out at the administrative review, or possibly referred to a higher level."
A call to Harris' home at Pensacola Naval Air Station was not returned Saturday night.
Harris, who is married, graduated in 1991 from Senath-Hornersville High School in Senath, Mo. He was commissioned a second lieutenant through the Officer Candidate School in April 1997 and joined the Blue Angels in September 2006.
Dunkelberger said Rear Adm. Mark Guadagnini, chief of Naval air training, would preside over the administrative review of the two team members, but he said he did not know when the review will take place.
The No. 4 jet also was absent from the Blue Angels' air show in Jacksonville last weekend. The team did not announce the departure of the two members until Thursday.
Dunkelberger said the team would fly the remaining two shows of the 2008 season one jet short.
Several spectators at the San Antonio air show said they noticed the show was down a plane but were not fazed by the absence.
Mario and Sylvia Perez said they loved Saturday's show despite the missing plane.
"He kept on asking, 'Where's the sixth one? Where's the sixth one?' " Sylvia Perez said.
Chuck Pollack also noted the vacancy on the team but wondered if it was because of something combat-related.
"I thought it was perfect the way they were flying," said Pollack, who last saw the Blue Angels perform four or five years ago.
With just five jets, formations changed. The jets flew in a letter V shape instead of their hallmark diamond or delta formation, Dunkleberger said.
The remaining shows are Nov. 8-9 at the Kennedy Space Center, with a Nov. 14-15 homecoming at Pensacola NAS.
Lindsay Kastner, a reporter with the San Antonio Express-News, contributed to this report.
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