Three aircraft crashes involving Navy flyer John McCain early in his career led Navy administrators to question his skills and judgment, reports the Los Angeles Times. In the most troubling incident, McCain was "clowning" around in a Skyraider over Spain in 1961 and flew into electrical wires, causing a blackout, according to the candidate's own account. McCain also crashed a jet in Texas and one in Virginia during training.
McCain claimed the "engine quit" in the Texas crash in his autobiography, but a Navy investigation found no evidence of engine failure. Probers blamed the crash on faulty flying by the 23-year-old pilot. After McCain was sent to Vietnam he lost two planes, but was not faulted in either of those cases. He has often cited his service history, including his time as a POW, to score campaign points.