Monday, May 7, 2012

F-22 pilots say its unsafe to fly; strong stuff on 60 Minutes

F-22 pilots say its unsafe to fly; strong stuff on 60 Minutes:
F-22s flying over Atlanta
Pretty compelling piece on 60 Minutes tonight about the concerns that Air Force pilots have about flying the vaunted F-22 Raptor built by Lockheed Martin. If you didn't see it already, or want to again, follow the links, watch it and comment.
Also, watch this web only video talking about the steps 60 Minutes took to get the pilots to agree to on-camera interviews. To protect the pilots from Air Force reprisals, the interview was witnessed by Rep. Adam Kitzinger, R-Ill., himself an Air Force tanker and surveillance aircraft pilot. Military personnel can take complaints to a member of congress and be protected from disciplinary action.
Some highlights from notes I took on quick viewing on the web.
Maj. Jeremy Gordon and Capt. Josh Wilson both say they feel the F-22 is unsafe to fly. Both have experienced hypoxia or oxygen deprivation in fights in the Raptor and now both have put their careers in jeopardy by declining to fly the roughly $180 million a copy warbirds (closer to $400 million if you count development costs).
One fatal F-22 crash has aleady been caused by the problems. Wilson and Gordon say there will probably more.
"We are waiting for something to happen," said Wilson. "If it happens nobody is going to be surprised. It's only a matter of time."
At least 36 (18 percent) of 200 Raptor pilots have had a hypoxia-like incident in flight. there have been at least 11 incidents since the Air Force resumed flying F-22s last fall.
Several pilots have been treated in hyperbaric chambers, most commonly used to help deep sea divers recover.
The effects of the problems linger. There is now a condition known among F-22 pilots as "The Raptor cough."
CBS correspondent Leslie Stahl cited an anonymous email from one Raptor pilot that calls the F-22 pilots "the most expensive group of lab monkeys ever assembled," as the Air Force keeps flying the plane with no clue as to why it's causing pilots to become disoriented.
- Bob Cox

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