A former leader of the Vermont Air National Guard took an F-16 fighter jet from Burlington to Washington D.C. for a work trip that doubled as a “romantic rendezvous” with a female Army colonel, VTDigger reports. Col. Thomas Jackman allegedly took the jet down to the D.C. area in late January 2015 to attend a conference and to meet up with the woman. According to the website, pilots don’t “typically” use their planes to attend conferences—but Jackman’s rank meant he had “ultimate authority.” Conference attendees were also reportedly meant stay at Joint Base Andrews for one night, but Jackman booked hotel rooms in the area for two other nights, according to the outlet. Jackman, who is married, and the woman, a Pentagon employee, reportedly sent “gushy messages” to each other before their January meeting. “Look forward to seeing the real deal in person soon!” Jackman wrote to the woman in an email obtained by VTDigger.
When Jackman’s superiors found out about the rendezvous, they reportedly ordered Jackman to fly home from the Washington area on a “commercial flight” and had someone else pick up his F-16. They also reportedly removed him from his position. It is unclear if taxpayers funded Jackman’s F-16 use, which costs about $8,000 an hour, according to the outlet. Jackman denied being involved with a female Army colonel in an interview with the website. When asked if he was “forced to retire by Guard leaders” because of his Washington trip, he declined to comment.