Two F-22 pilots make public outing: "not comfortable" flying the Raptor right now

May 04 2012 - 3 Comments

Two F-22 pilots have spoken for the first time as on CBS 60 Minutes, in an interview with Lesley Stahl that will be broadcast Sunday, May 6 at 7 p.m. ET/PT.

According to Dave Majumdar at Flight Global, the show featuring the “military whistleblowers” could explain the Air Combat Command chief Gen Mike Hostage’s sudden public admission: in a recent media briefing at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia, he explained that “a very small number” of F-22 pilots who have asked not to fly the F-22 Raptor fighter jets, or to be reassigned to other units, because of the oxygen-deprivation problems with the fifth generation stealth fighter.

Maj. Jeremy Gordon and Capt. Josh Wilson, of the 192 Fighter Wing of the Virginia Air National Guard, an associate unit of the Air Force’s 1st FW at Langley are among the Raptor pilots who have experienced hypoxia symptoms while flying the U.S. top fighter plane.  For this reason, they have chosen not to fly the F-22.

“I’m not comfortable flying in the F-22 right now” Gordon says in the interview.

Wilson describes his battle to overcome hypoxia experienced in February 2011 “It was…kind of a surreal experience,” he says, taking “immense concentration” to perform “simple simple tasks”: when he attempted to pull the emergency oxygen ring he couldn’t find it. “I couldn’t remember in what part of the aircraft it was in.”

In the seven months since the grounding on the F-22 fleet, whose final, 195th example, was just delivered to the Air Force, there have been 11 more oxygen-deprivation incidents.

Way too many to feel safe.

[vodpod id=ExternalVideo.1018078&w=425&h=350&fv=si%3D254%26%26contentValue%3D50124175%26shareUrl%3Dhttp%3A%2F%2Fwww.cbsnews.com%2Fvideo%2Fwatch%2F%3Fid%3D7407394n]

  • Matt B.

    I find it utterly dumbfounding that Lockheed/Air Force engineers haven’t been able to identify what the cause of the problem is. How can you design a plane with such a performance envelope, one that at extremes can kill the pilot, Star Wars-esque avionics, etc., but something like this is grounding the entire fleet for months?

    The real shame is that all this is fuel for detractors of the plane, at a time when the plane should still be in production. Those that say the F-22 is a Cold War relic need look no further than the PAK FA & J-20. As David has said, there very well could be thousands of J-20s in the Pacific Theater 15 years from now. How are a few squadrons of F-22s going to counter that? If anyone thinks the F-35 is the air superiority answer, they’re naive beyond imagination.

  • Korben

    Scary stuff. Don’t even want to think about how it feels to be hypoxic when your life is on the line.

  • Terri

    It took our best and brightest to come forward, without permission, to get this issue looked at for real. I really commend those men and I an very glad they did it.