Tuesday, March 03, 2009

F/A-18 Crash

On Dec 8th a Marine F/A-18 crashed into a San Diego neighborhood, killing four. The Marine Corps has just completed its investigation of the events leading to the crash and, to its very great credit, is making those results public. I have been hugely impressed with the calm and sober demeanor with which the Corps has announced a series of grievous errors that led to the loss of four lives; lives which it is dedicated to defending.

The pilot was repeatedly offered the chance to land at North Island Naval Air Station, which would have provided him an approach entirely over water. He declined because he was not familiar with that runway and was more comfortable attempting to land his crippled jet at Miramar. He should have been overruled by ground control, and was not. He knew from the beginning of the incident, before the choice of landing site, that his sole remaining engine was in trouble. He did not follow checklist procedures for the trouble indicator lights that he was getting.

The list goes on; error piled upon error. Four officers relieved of command; others reprimanded; the pilot grounded pending a hearing. Punishment not in retribution, but to maintain a standard of excellence.

Clearly, the Marine Corps has been as saddened by this as we have been. Their news conference has made that quite plain, and yet they have not engaged in inappropriate breast-beating. They have a job to do. It is a difficult and dangerous job, and a necessary one. It is a job done by imperfect human beings. They do their job with amazing skill, but they do not do it perfectly.

God help us all if they ever decide it cannot be done, for any reason.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous10:18 AM

    There is a reason I volunteered for the MARINES when I was 17...
    Not that I wouldn't have asked too many questions, and otherwise not made a good one. Not to mention that I am 4-F. They wouldn't take me, and shouldn't have. But if I was going to serve, I wanted to serve with a quality outfit, and that they were and are.