I was contacted by an attorney specializing in whistleblower cases not long after posting a story this morning about Air Force Major Jeremy Gordon and Captain Josh Wilson, the F-22 whistleblowers who appeared Sunday on 60 Minutes.
Frederick Morgan Jr. works from Cincinnati and was called by one of the pilot’s attorneys for his expertise.
Morgan pointed out that the pair had no idea they were going to be allowed whistleblower status, and went to 60 Minutes without any formal protection.
“We knew there were some statutes that afforded them certain rights, but that was it,” he said. Sunday’s broadcast, however, led to Monday’s hearings within the Senate Armed Services Committe and the whistleblower protection.
The two pilots were also unaware the Air Force would be removing a carbon filter on the F-22’s oxygen system, that had been installed before they were recorded for CBS. The filter is what prompted the pair to quit flying the F-22 on their doctors orders.
Those medical instructions also led them into formal disciplinary actions they are still working through with the Air Force.
No doubt these pilots are going through an intense situation, and Morgan promised to fill me in on that aspect of the case when he finishes getting back to the list of inquiries he has before him now.
In the meantime, he offered this public statement offering additional insight into the situation:
The F-22 has a serious and still-unidentified problem which causes pilots to become disoriented in flight, and to experience long-term symptoms of ill health, as described by Captain Wilson and Major Gordon in their disclosure to Congressman Adam Kinzinger and shown on 60 Minutes.
Both pilots stopped flying the F-22 for medical reasons in early 2012 after the Air Force returned to flight status with no root cause for the hypoxia and installed an activated carbon filter on their breathing apparatus. Last week, that filter was removed from the F-22 fleet.
Captain Wilson has been subjected to formal discipline as a result of his adherence to his physician’s recommendation that he not fly with the filter. He is willing to resume flying to comply with the demands of his still-pending Letter Of Reprimand and avoid further disciplinary action.
Major Gordon has advised the National Guard he is prepared to assist in the assessment of the problems with the life support systems in the F-22 by resuming flight activities with close medical scrutiny and coordination with those evaluating the life support system.
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