by Shirley Locke Holmes, CPW News Service
With 40 percent of its T-45 jets from Meridian, Mississippi, Pensocola, Florida and Kingsville Texas grounded because of potential operational risks sights have turned to memories of tragic hypoxia incidents in and out of the military.
With the Master's golf tournament in Augusta, Georgia opening with the memory of Arnold Palmer who in 1999 lost one of his leading golf course designers along with professional golfer Payne Stewart due to an oxygen issue on a Learjet headed from Orlando, Florida to Dallas, Texas, retired jet mechanic, Francois DeHavalond, from Toledo, Spain said "the U.S. Navy can't be too careful."
"I remember when Payne Stewart was flying from Orlando to Dallas to meet with the builder of golf courses in Texas, Jeff Blackard, a close friend of the head of the University of Texas' privatized pension fund and partner with George Bush in the Texas Rangers, Tom Hicks, who has been pumping Texas University's money into an array of private defense contracting investments. Anyway, the jet flew off course after reaching 39,000 feet and crashing in South Dakota. NORAD scrambled jets to shadow the Learjet in a way that NORAD didn't do for the 911 hijacked planes, leading USN intelligence officer, Scott Shuger, to write his scathing Slate.com critique IGNORAD: THE MILITARY SCREW-UP NOBODY'S TALKING ABOUT. The Learjet had two well-trained pilots on Payne Stewart's flight, one with years of experience at the controls of military jets and they were both trained in identifying oxygen issues. Killed everyone onboard," said DeHavalond.
DeHavalond said he has followed Mr. Blackard's career since that 1999 event and is troubled by what he sees. "Yea, the guy has paid for the legal defense of Texas Attorney General, Ken Paxton, who is under investigation for securities fraud," said DeHavalond. "My buddies from the U.S. are wondering if the Paxton character isn't like another Texas Attorney General, Dan Morales, who went to jail for trying to cut out a private piece of the multi-billion dollar Texas Tobacco Settlement that included all the big tobacco companies including R.J. Reynolds whose biggest stockholders were Gordon Gray and his son, C. Boyden Gray, the Bush family legal counsel. I'm not sure that I would fly on a plane anywhere near Jeff Blackard, but that incident raises issues for everyone who assumes that they are safe, particularly our young pilots who are just getting their feet wet with identifying potential high-flying oxygen and other issues. You can't live without clean air and oxygen free of poisoning." said DeHavalond who noted that Blackard was building a development near one of the concerned USN bases in Kingsville, Texas and that some of the local citizens had lodged complaints about the development with Blackard's attorney, John D. Bell, and others involved in the project.
"When it comes to our military pilots they need the assurances that their equipment and the systems that support them are 100% reliable and that they are breathing in dependable, life sustaining mixtures of oxygen and air and not some weird pollutant," said DeHavalond who has also followed the career of Learjet executive turned founder of General Atomics Inc. that makes the Predator and Reaper drones, Linden Blue, former business partner in Nicaragua of murderous dictator, Anastasio Samoza and Yale fraternity brother of George Bush.
"These kinds of problems are quickly building the case for unmanned craft that are much easier to fly under extreme conditions and carry none of the conflicting moral or ethical dilemmas facing human beings in combat or on clandestine assignments to fulfill a secret kill list," said DeHavalond a co-founder of the Remember Bill Stewart in Nicaragua Society, named for ABC newsman, Bill Stewart who was murdered in 1979 by Samoza's National Guard.