You Won’t Believe This F/A-18D Flyover Cost A U.S. Marine Corps Squadron Commander His Job

A screenshot from the video obtained by the San Diego Union-Tribune.

Can you believe Marine All Weather Fighter Attack Squadron 225 (VMFA-225) CO was fired for this flyover at MCAS Miramar?

A few days ago reading the news that Lt. Col. Ralph Featherstone, Marine All Weather Fighter Attack Squadron 225 squadron commander since last April, had been fired on Jan. 24 after performing a flyover during a “sundown” ceremony at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, “due to concerns about poor judgment” I immediately thought his F/A-18 had performed some kind of insane low passage or buzzed the Tower as done in the famous Top Gun scene.

Then, I found the video obtained by the San Diego Union-Tribune that shows the actual flyover. According to the media outlet, an air wing official confirmed the removal was linked to the flight shown in the following video:

What is more, “Featherstone was in the rear seat of the jet when it flew lower and faster than was approved in the day’s flight plan.”

In about 30 years attending airshows and events and 25 years reporting about military aviation I’ve seen many many “stunts” (i.e. aggressive maneuvers at low altitude) far worse than the one in the video above. Maybe we miss some detail about the whole story here, but that flyover is far from being “low”! No matter you are an expert or not, I think you won’t find it dangerous from any point of view.

Let’s not forget that the sundown ceremony celebrated the squadron’s transition from the “Legacy Hornet” to the F-35B STOVL (Short Take Off Vertical Landing) variant of the Lightning II aircraft. It’s an event aimed at boosting the morale of the squadron as it moves to another chapter of its history. Do you see anything “unsafe” in that passage?

What do you think? Leave a message below and let me know.



About David Cenciotti 3941 Articles
David Cenciotti is a freelance journalist based in Rome, Italy. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviationist”, one of the world’s most famous and read military aviation blogs. Since 1996, he has written for major worldwide magazines, including Air Forces Monthly, Combat Aircraft, and many others, covering aviation, defense, war, industry, intelligence, crime and cyberwar. He has reported from the U.S., Europe, Australia and Syria, and flown several combat planes with different air forces. He is a former 2nd Lt. of the Italian Air Force, a private pilot and a graduate in Computer Engineering. He has written four books.