Fighter Pilot Followed Rules, but Must Defend his Wings
In January, a US Navy F/A-18E Super Hornet flew over Berkeley, California, creating smiles, a news story, and setting off a few car alarms.
The Navy “investigated” and determined the pilot (“naval aviator”) violated no rules. In fact, he was under FAA control at the time, and Air Traffic Control approved his altitude and flight path.
Yet the pilot will still have to defend his wings and flying career:
Navy brass has called for a Field Naval Aviator Evaluation Board to “examine the aeronautical judgment of the aviator during the flight.”
The board is not a judicial or disciplinary body but does recommend whether an aviator “should retain flight status.”
(A similar board permanently grounded two Navy pilots in 2010 for a Georgia Tech flyby.)
A commander can convene the FNAEB process for a fairly broad range of perceived infractions, including insinuations of “discredit to Naval aviation.” The FNAEB can have a range of results, but only one in that range is “good” (keeping your wings), while there are a host of others that are “bad” — including losing your wings.
In other words, the best you can do is break even — and there are lots of opportunities to lose.
Presumably, the Navy was a bit miffed that he created a fuss by flying over Berkeley, even if he broke no rules when he did so.
Also at the Military Times.