Proud to Be: My Life, The Airforce, The Controversy

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9780375501098: Proud to Be: My Life, The Airforce, The Controversy

An extraordinary young woman. An extraordinary controversy. This is Kelly Flinn's story--the one she couldn't tell when she was in uniform.

"I fell in love with the wrong man."--Kelly Flinn

She is the first woman to pilot a B-52, a charismatic twenty-six-year-old from a proper Georgia family who has always distinguished herself--as a fifteen- year-old at U.S. Space Camp and as a cadet at the U.S. Air Force Academy. There, she overcame considerable odds and earned a coveted position as a combat pilot. But nothing prepared Lieutenant Kelly Flinn for the controversy that erupted when the military began an investigation into her relationship with Marc Zigo, a man who lied to her about his marital status and then betrayed her to military authorities. Flinn was forced to resign amid charges of disobeying orders--charges she disputes in this poignant and powerful memoir.

This is the story of Flinn's love affair with flying . . . and the love affair that ended her trailblazing Air Force career. This is also the story of a determined young woman fighting for her rightful place in a military establishment run by men, many of whom are not yet ready to accept a female combat pilot. Flinn reveals examples of hypocrisy and sexism in the military that are, by any standard, infuriating. She rose higher and fell harder, but Kelly Flinn's story is universal, and it powerfully dramatizes the fault lines between our private and professional lives. With disarming candor, Flinn takes us inside her world. We feel her exhilaration as she soars through the sky and commands her own plane,and we share her horror as the love she dreamed of turns into a nightmare and she must battle the military's sex police behind closed doors. Kelly Flinn has been called "the Hester Prynne of our time," and her life has been depicted in the media as a combination of Top Gun and The Scarlet Letter.

In Proud to Be, she speaks in her own voice--determined, vulnerable, and all too human.

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Review:

Kelly Flinn might have been a fine pilot, but she's not much of a writer. That said, her book, Proud to Be, still manages to hold your interest and elicit your sympathy. Flinn, the first female bomber pilot in the United States Air Force, achieved a different sort of notoriety when she was forced to leave the service in the wake of an affair with a married enlisted man. In the civilian world, stories like Flinn's are a dime a dozen and, though painful for the parties involved, hardly the stuff of national controversy. In the military, however, sex is a hot-button issue. Already racked by the Tailhook scandal a few years ago (for which not a single male participant was punished), the Air Force whipped up a storm of controversy when it threatened Flinn with a court-martial for her adulterous behavior.

Certainly Flinn is not blameless in all this; she admits to her involvement with an enlisted man who was married to an enlisted woman, though Flinn is rather disingenuous when it comes to accepting responsibility for her actions. Nevertheless, the real story behind Kelly Flinn's run-in with the Air Force is less about sex than double standards in the military. Think what you will about Flinn, but her book raises some important and troubling questions about America's military establishment.

About the Author:

Kelly Flinn majored in biology at the U.S. Air Force Academy and graduated in 1993. She is the first woman to pilot a B-52. She resigned from the Air Force in 1997 but hopes to serve again. She has lived primarily in St. Louis and Atlanta.

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