A Top Gun Child Pornographer Tried to Sell Secrets to China

Daniel Harris had an illustrious career. He graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 2005 and went on to the Navy’s Top Gun flight school. Soon he was an instructor at the Strike Fighter Weapons School in Virginia.

But secretly, the 30-year-old married family man and Navy lieutenant was also a sex offender. Harris spent his evenings trawling the Internet for underage girls.

He’d pose as a preteen boy to gain the girls’ trust, convince them to pose naked in front of webcams and abuse and threaten the victims if they got cold feet.

The feds successfully prosecuted Harris on 31 felony counts in 2014. A court has yet to sentence Harris, but he certainly faces a lengthy prison sentence for his crimes. His wife has filed divorce proceedings. Life’s about to get really unpleasant for Harris.

That’s probably why, in a desperate and ridiculous attempt to secure his freedom, the ex-pilot wrote a letter to the Chinese embassy offering up American military secrets in exchange for a jailbreak.

Harris wrote the letter in the name of a fellow inmate, but the jail screened Harris’ mail and quickly detected it. The ex-aviator has a habit of forging strange letters. During his trial, he wrote a fake confession under the name Jon Anderson.

Anderson’s letter — written by Harris — claimed Anderson had framed Harris because he wanted to sleep with the former flight instructor’s wife. Authorities didn’t buy it and they’ve paid close attention to all Harris’ correspondence ever since.

The Virginian-Pilot newspaper obtained a copy of Harris’ letter. We’ve transcribed it below, typos and all.

“To Whom It May Concern,

“Attached is a list (partial) of information I possess that I believe you would be very interested in having. All I ask in return is that you break me out of Western Tidewater Regional Jail in Suffolk Virginia; first and quickly.

“My country, that I have faithfully served since 2001, found me guilty of 31 felonies that I did not commit. And to make it worse they took my wife and children from me. So if they no longer believe in me, then I no longer believe in them.

“In return, once out and under your protection, all my knowledge is yours. I was a Navy F-18 pilot, Topgun Graduate and air to air employment expert w/ extensive experience in Pacific area of operations and U.S. air force fighters (joint operations).

“They read all of my outgoing and incoming mail, hence the fake name on the envelope. But if I am not out soon I will write the Russian embassy (or if I haven’t heard any further instructions by [Editor’s note — here Harris wrote two dates, March 31 and April 1. He scratched these out and settled on April 3.] I am currently in block A-2 (drawing on 2nd page) although I may be in [‘The hospital’ is scratched out.] E-1 this weekend … this is more than I can take …

“I believe this letter, the schedule it is written on and a Google search of me in Virginia Beach will prove my sincerity/ honesty. The decision is yours but if you don’t act fast it will be gone.

— Daniel Harris”

At top — Daniel Harris’ mugshot. Suffolk County photo. Above — U.S. Navy F/A-18 Super Hornets. Navy photo

On the back of the page, Harris drew a crude map of the jail, depicting his cell in relation to the parking lot. Opposite this is a list entitled “Total Knowledge” that appears to include some of the topics Harris would brief his benefactor about, including —

“F-35 JSF A-C

“F-18A-F Hornet

“Super Hornet

“F-15C/E Eagle/Strike Eagle

“F-22A Raptor

“E-2C/D Hawkeye


“AIM-92 Sidewinder

“AIM-7 Sparrow

“M105, JHMCS (Joint Helmet Mounted Cueing System).”

That’s a lot of tech, but more troubling is Harris’ supposed willingness to give away detailed secrets of America’s Pacific strategy. His list goes on —

“Carrier Operations/Defense

“Pacific theater

“air-to-air tactics/ timelines for F-18, F-15, F-22, F-35

“single point of failure for all U.S. fighter aircraft

“integrated fire control

“U.S. pilot training/proficiency

“communication calls/meaning

“radars for F-35, F-18, F-15, F-22

“U.S. knowledge of threat capabilities, etc …”

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