Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Hazing Incident Proving Costly for Air Force

It's an air force tradition to celebrate a cadet's first solo flight by stripping him on the tarmac, use sandpaper on the skin and otherwise razz the new aviator. But in one case now under investigation, the hazing got out of hand and the cadet suffered serious injury to his ear. The damage has left him unable to fly and he has left the academy, says a story in El Mostrador. The incident occurred about a year ago, but grew worse lately after the cadet alleged that an officer hacked into emails between the cadet and his attorney. The air force says it's considering disciplinary action. As El Mostrador notes, training a pilot is expensive -- about $2 million for a single F-16 course. Besides the financial cost, this is no time for the air force to lose pilots. The service is desperately trying to keep them from defecting to airline jobs. It is now letting college grads apply to be pilots, without having to go into the air force academy. So the incident gives the air force bad publicity when it can least afford it, and it could have political consequences, too. More of the military budget is coming under legislative control, and bad press such as this doesn't help.

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