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Pilot grounded after allegedly using an F-16 for a romantic getaway

An F-16 Fighting Falcon takes off July 16, 2014, during exercise Beverly Midnight 14-2 at Kunsan Air Base, South Korea. (Senior Airman Taylor Curry/U.S. Air Force)
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This maverick felt the need for speed — and now a randy F-16 pilot finds himself grounded.

Vermont Air National Guard Col. Thomas Jackman used a nearly $19 million supersonic jet “for a work trip that doubled as a romantic rendezvous with a female Army colonel who worked at the Pentagon,” reported vtdigger.com, citing three former guard members as sources.

According to the report, Jackman took flight from Vermont on Jan. 27, 2015, after two months of flirting with a military officer who worked in Washington, D.C., by phone and email. An email speaking of a “reunion” implied Jackson and his paramour had met in person though she also sent photos to the pilot.

“Look forward to seeing the real deal in person soon!” he wrote back shortly before embarking on his trip.

There was a brief exchange where Jackman feared bad weather might delay his plans, but the anxious pilot found his way to the nation’s capital just the same. It’s unclear whether he flew into Andrews of Langley Air Force Base in suburban D.C. Snow storms along the east coast complicated arrivals throughout the day.

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Jackman’s alleged call to booty quickly went south when his superiors reportedly learned he was in D.C. with an F-16.

“Jackman was ordered to fly home on a commercial flight,” according to the report, which says a senior officer traveled from Burlington to Washington to retrieve Jackman’s borrowed F-16 and bring it back to Vermont.

Following the incident, Jackman was demoted from his position as wing commander and submitted his resignation, which allowed him to maintain retirement pay and benefits, according to the report.

The 55-year-old pilot, who is married, denied being in a romantic relationship with the unnamed Army colonel, but declined to comment on the events leading to his resignation.

There was no comment from the Vermont Air Guard, though a spokesperson told vtdigger.com it is “not common practice” for a pilot to take a fighter jet to a work conference, which Jackman said was his reason for going to D.C.

D.C is roughly 500 miles from Burlington. The hourly operating cost for an F-16, which reaches a top speed of 1,500 miles an hour, is approximately $8,000.

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© 2018 New York Daily News

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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