The Air Force has spent tens of millions of dollars over the past two years correcting problems with its premier jet fighter — issues that Capt. Joshua Wilson helped expose by speaking up, both to his bosses and on national television.
Since then, Wilson’s career as an F-22 Raptor pilot has stalled. A member of the Virginia Air National Guard’s 149th Fighter Squadron, Wilson hasn’t been permitted to fly the jet since early 2012. He’s fighting disciplinary actions that he sees as retribution for going public.
“I’m a fighter pilot. I worked my entire life to get in the cockpit and to that job,” said Wilson, who is 37. “Right now, I’m fighting the Air Force when I should be fighting our enemies.”
Almost two years ago, Wilson and Maj. Jeremy Gordon told CBS’s “60 Minutes” that the F-22 had a defective oxygen system that was endangering pilots.
The veteran aviators, dressed in their Virginia Air National Guard flight suits, shared their personal accounts of mid-flight oxygen deprivation that left them disoriented. Other pilots had similar life-threatening experiences but were reluctant to speak publicly, they said.
The Pentagon’s top brass took notice.