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F-22 pilot in Hawaii briefly suffers from oxygen deficit

July 15, 2012
By AUDREY McAVOY , The Associated Press

HONOLULU - The Hawaii Air National Guard said Tuesday that one of its pilots briefly experienced an oxygen deficit while flying an F-22 stealth fighter this month.

The pilot was heading back to Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam from a routine training sortie when sensors indicated that he wasn't getting as much oxygen as he should, said Lt. Col. Charles Anthony, a spokesman for the Hawaii Guard.

The pilot also felt dizzy. He activated the emergency oxygen system until his symptoms abated and the plane's oxygen-generating system returned to normal.

The pilot landed safely after the incident, the first time a Hawaii F-22 pilot has experienced hypoxia, or oxygen deprivation, Anthony said.

A medical exam cleared the pilot for duty. All 14 of the Hawaii National Guard's F-22 planes are operational, Anthony said.

The nation's F-22 fighter jets were grounded for four months last year after pilots complained of experiencing a lack of oxygen that can cause dizziness and blackouts.

An Air Force advisory panel studied the problem for seven months but couldn't identify the cause. The panel supported a plan to keep the aircraft flying with pilots using special sensors, filters and other safety precautions.

In May, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta ordered that F-22 flights remain "within proximity of potential landing locations" so that pilots can land quickly in the event that they experience an oxygen-deficit problem.

The F-22 is the Air Force's most-prized stealth fighter. It was built to evade radar and is capable of flying at faster-than-sound speeds without using afterburners.

Five other bases are home to F-22s: Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska; Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Va.; Nellis Air Force Base, Nev.; Holloman Air Force Base, N.M.; and Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla.

 
 

 

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