Washington, Oct.8 : Has Republican presidential candidate John McCain been successful in fudging details of his flying career as a pilot in the US Navy.
Controversy has surrounded a series of crashes involving planes piloted by McCain, but if facts are to be gone by, the US Navy says that he cannot be blamed for any of those incidents.
In his autobiography, McCain maintains that a couple of the accidents were caused by engine failure. But an official investigation by the Naval Aviation Safety Center makes clear that the first accident, in March 1960, was caused exclusively by pilot error.
The facts say that during the course of his flying career with the U.S. Navy, McCain was involved in at least five major mishaps or crashes involving his plane. The most dramatic incidents occurred in 1967.
U.S. Navy records make clear that no blame can be attached to McCain for either of these incidents. McCain was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross on his return from Vietnam and cited for his "superb airmanship" in the abortive raid on the power plant in Hanoi that ended with his capture and imprisonment by the North Vietnamese.
Mystery has surrounded the precise circumstances of the three earlier incidents, and particularly an accident on March 12, 1960, while McCain was still in flight school at Corpus Christi in Texas.
The McCain campaign has either ignored or failed to respond to requests by The Washington Post and other news organizations for the release of the candidate's full military records, which could shed light on the accidents and the pilot's personal involvement.