Monday, December 08, 2008

F/A-18 crashes into house

The news is now reporting that a Marine F/A-18 out of Miramar has crashed into a house in San Diego. Apparently, the pilot ejected prior to the crash. I have a message for the pilot.

Pardon my french, but what the fuck are you doing ejecting out of a plane when your plane is on a crash trajectory for a residential neighborhood? Your duty is to protect the citizens of the United States of America. It is your duty, in this situation, to do everything in your power to keep that plane from taking the life of an American citizen. If that means you have to stay at the controls of your malfunctioning plane as it augurs into the terrain, then that's what your duty to the United States called for you to do today. Ejecting from a plane that might crash into an occupied civilian structure, especially over a residential neighborhood, is only excusable if there was no chance of controlling the descent of the plane in any way. What if it had crashed into University High School? How many children would you have killed?

If this pilot ejected from a plane that he had any chance of controlling, and in so doing failed to do his utmost to protect the lives of the citizens of San Diego, I fully expect that he be charged with gross dereliction of duty, and, given that at least three people have died as a result, manslaughter.

P.S. Some people have expressed upset at my tone. Perhaps my ire should be directed more at the Marine Corps, for operating an aviation training facility in a densely populated area. If it comes out that the pilot in this case did absolutely everything humanly possible to control the course of the plane before ejecting, then he has done his duty (provided, of course, that the plane's malfunction is not itself his fault), and the deaths that may well have resulted from this are not truly his fault. But as I first read about this, I was reminded of that news chopper pilot whose tail rotor failed. This is a circumstance in which most people would consider the chopper "uncontrollable". He managed, nonetheless, to somehow wrestle the chopper to a crash landing on top of a commercial building so as to minimize harm. (There's film of the last several seconds of the flight somewhere on the web.) I admit that I hold our servicemen to high standards. Those standards will sometimes require Marines to die for their duty. That's part and parcel of the job, and if you aren't up for that, don't take it.

Update: The Marine Corps has disciplined 13 service members for errors in handling this incident, including relieving four officers from duty. Still no word on what discipline, if any, the pilot will face. It seems that a number of people screwed up rather badly here.