Democratic presidential candidate Al Sharpton missed a scheduled appearance with young minority journalists yesterday under puzzling and yet-to-be-explained circumstances.

Forum organizers said aides to the New York activist told them he could not make it because two US Airways flights to Washington had been canceled. But the airline said both flights left on time from New York's LaGuardia Airport.

Sharpton was supposed to attend a luncheon and sit for a 1 p.m. interview with scholars in the UNITY: Journalists of Color program.

Jesse Rafael Borges, director of the UNITY mentor program, said Sharpton was supposed to catch the 10 a.m. shuttle, but his scheduler called to say it had been canceled and he would take the next flight at noon. The organizers agreed to delay the program to accommodate him, but the scheduler called again and said the noon flight had been canceled, as well.

Borges said that after the airline reported the flight had not been canceled, he called Sharpton's scheduler. "I said, 'I think you made a mistake. You sure it was US Air? Because their flights haven't been canceled,' " Borges said. "They said, 'Oh, it might have been another airline.' "

Borges said he suggested that Sharpton take the US Airways flight, but the scheduler told him Sharpton had left the airport and could not make it in time.

Several heated calls were exchanged between the forum's organizers and Sharpton's aides. The aides said Sharpton would call and explain the situation to Vic Carter, an anchor at Baltimore's WJZ-TV and host of the event.

Carter said that one of Sharpton's aides called and asked him to hold the line for the candidate, but that after about five minutes of waiting, Carter hung up. An aide called again, but Carter said he was left on hold again for several minutes before being told Sharpton would be available shortly and would call back. He never did.

Sharpton's spokeswoman did not return a call for comment.

Democratic presidential candidate Al Sharpton baffled organizers by missing the scheduled appearance.