General’s wife: ‘Raptor Cough’ contributed to husband’s suicide

Military.com’s lead story yesterday was written by Bob Cox of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, and in it Cox quotes Air Force Brig. Gen. “Pugs” Tinsley’s widow intimating a connection between the notorious F-22 oxygen issue and her husband’s suicide by gunshot to the chest back in 2008.  Here’s an excerpt:

In a lengthy interview with the Star-Telegram, Joanna Tinsley said her husband experienced big changes during the last few months of his life. He was normally a happy, highly energetic and caring man, but he deteriorated physically and emotionally.

“He was short-tempered. He was impatient. He would get mad at things that never would have agitated him before,” said Tinsley, who now lives in Phoenix.

“He was more foggy-headed. He would ask questions over and over again and then stare at you with a blank look.”

Tinsley suffered headaches, his appetite diminished, and he had trouble sleeping. He was plagued by a chronic cough, a common problem for F-22 pilots.

Now, after reading reports of strange occurrences involving other F-22 pilots and comparing notes with other wives, Tinsley said she can’t help but believe that the Air Force’s prized fighter is a health risk. Something about the F-22, she theorizes, may have triggered her husband’s suicide.

“They’re seeing the same things, the same changes that I saw in Tom,” Tinsley said.

The article goes on to mention that a few other Air Force wives — including those of pilots currently flying the Raptor — have noticed changes in their husbands’ health, including persistent coughs and loss of memory and motor skills.

Meanwhile the Air Force is sticking with their story that previous mishaps had something to do with a sticky valve in the pressure vest.  No root cause, per se; no “smoking gun.”

Where it’s not tragic it’s very weird . . .

  • guess

    This is just getting ridiculous.
    How could someone not realize at any point that all the chemicals in/on the plane could be potentially toxic?
    And now the same primary contractor is building the F35

    • ghostwhowalks

      Who do you suggest we get to build the F-35 ? Blue Cross

      • guess

        Don’t be an idiot. I’m just making the case that having the company that for all intents and purposes seems to have delivered a defective product and then putting them in charge of a product 10 times the size of the one they couldn’t effectively accomplish is just ludicrous

        • daybrother

          You don’t have any facts at all. Your comment has contributed nothing, explained nothing, advanced the knowledge of no one, implied that the F35 project will fail based on nothing and left yourself open to ridicule; all for nothing.

          • Peritus

            The F-35 project is already a failure. The $170B cost overrun has displaced funding for other urgent requirements in the defense portfolio, including fixing the F-22, and maintaining peoples’ health. The longer it takes F-35 proponents to recognize this, the longer it will take to fix anything with regard to defense spending. We’ll repeat the same mistakes in the projects to come after the F-35.

          • Matt

            *golf clap*

        • tiger

          LochMart is the final builder. There are 100’s of sub contractors. They don’t make engines or the oxygen system.

    • 123456789

      I’ll build the F35. Just give me a couple billion dollars and you’ll see them um never.

  • ghostwhowalks

    He was Wing and base commander at Elmendorf up to his death. The AF Times gave this as his potted bio ;He had served as an F-15 instructor pilot, F-15C test pilot, wing weapons officer, exchange officer and instructor with the Royal Australian Air Force.
    His previous 22-month assignment was as executive officer to the Air Force chief of staff, Gen. T. Michael Moseley.

    Dont see him having much time in the F-22 cockpit

    • Tiger

      That does not sound like the resume of a suicidal type. Not many a guy with a Star on the collar are.

    • http://www.PrometheusGoneWild.com PrometheusGoneWild

      To keep his fighter qualifications he would have still been flying a lot.
      Not saying there could not have been mitigating health circumstances; not saying the F-22 did this to him, but he would have been spending time in the ****pit.
      As for the “valve” explanation, it does not sit well with me.
      Granted, not having a vest helping to keep blood up to your head could make problems. Especially if you are doing a lot of high G aerodynamics.
      And if you are older like this fellow was and was not in great shape there could be brain injury.
      A couple MRI’s might get to the bottom of it…..I know they can “read” damage to the brain from boxing, football and IED’s. Granted it would be a different type of damage but if it is permanent it could be found……

  • Menzie

    Until a definitive smoking gun and solution is found I say ground the f@ckers and threaten Lockheed that we wont buy the f35. if they are a health risk then we cant opt out. I mean seriously this is fing insane. Our cream of the crop pilots committing suicide and coughing like stoners? Very professional. I wouldn’t become a pilot if I knew I would be fling those 2 models unless they fixed the crap.

    • Menzie

      *If they are a health risk we CAN opt out. darn spelling.

    • tiger

      Drone duty is looking better and better. 9-5 & no coughing.

    • Chuck

      Has there been any reports by anyone to suggest that the F-35 is having the same problem. Seems we have nearly two dozen flying by military pilots at several bases. Why would you stop a program that has to date not demonstrated the same problems? Just because the same contractor is involved does not mean the planes are built the same. All I can say is it is a good thing your not a pilot.

  • Menzie

    Oh great camoflauge the F22 has, sticks out like a sore thumb against the sky.

    • blight_

      At BVR it really shouldn’t matter what color you are…

    • doitagain

      Unless they’re flying upside-down, you’re not going to be looking at the top of the fighter.

    • Dagger029

      Heh. That’s funny. Actually, it looks like that particular bird doesn’t have any paint. :) It’s probably an old pic of the raptor from when it was still being tested.

  • Menzie

    Oh ans whats the point of having any camo if you are going to highlight the edges of the plane darker than the rest. Camo is supposed to break up any regular lines, it sure works good there, I mean sor the price tag it should have state of the art visual camo too, not just EM.

    • jamFRIDGE

      Why would it need visual camo? It moves so fast that by the time you see it are dead.

    • Chuck

      Do you even think before you write? The planes do not typically fly at grounds level. They are made to operate at nearly 65,000 feet, where the atmosphere is significantly different. On approach, they would usually be flying level, and not banking, providing a top on view. Looking at them would be like looking at the edge of a knife. From the ground, they are almost impossible to see with the unaided eye. From the statements that I have heard, even when they are within spitting range, radars still can’t lock onto them. When you arfe looking from the top down on most plans, you don’t have the sky as a background. Having darker camouflage on top makes perfect sense if you are trying to prefnt someone looking down at you against the land mass below. Flinally, you need to consider the effects on paint to sensors, which are usually along the edge of the plane. Those areas are often painted in a manner that the sensor is not affected by the paint.

  • BlackOwl18E

    Hypoxia has been known to cause pilots to have the same symptoms that she is describing. I think what she said is very possible. Why hasn’t the USAF grounded the F-22 fleet until the problem is solved? We really don’t need these highly expensive jets flying right now and they certainly aren’t doing anything against our current enemies. They should ground all the F-22s and have only 1 flying for tests to find the problem. Right now the USAF is forcing pilots to fly a plane that causes harm to its operators and risks hundred of millions of dollars as well as classified stealthy materials over where it flies. The most terrible risk is that to the pilots’ lives. Why hasn’t the USAF grounded the F-22s?

    • Amicus Curiae

      FYI from a CBS interactive business network business library web site, concerning Navy F-18 pilots: “…prolonged oxygen use can lead to the development of a condition known as acceleration atelectasis. Breathing 100% oxygen for an extended period, coupled with repeated high-G maneuvers while wearing a g-suit, may cause breathing difficulties and temporary lung injury. It’s a relatively uncommon occurrence with minimal long-term concerns, but bears mention in light of a recent physiologic occurrence ….”,

  • stephen russell

    We dont ill pilots flying the F22, sorry NO.
    Ground the plane, have them men fly other planes.

    • Amicus Curiae

      Flying military fighter jets is dangerous, even during training. Do you realize they are designed for combat, and if they go to war, F-22s are the best bet for pilot survival? What other planes are you referring to? I assume you are ready for the pilots to have less success in combat with those, provided they are safer in peacetime training, that is.

  • Hunter76

    “including persistent coughs and loss of memory and motor skills.”

    Sounds like growing old.

  • ltfunk2

    Corrupt contractor builds aircraft that poisons crew. General on the take signs off on it. Gormless pilot takes his own life rather than complain about it to an airforce that dosent want to know. Corrupt Contractor awarded another 100 million dollars to cover it all up.

    now why would anyone want to kick up a fuss ?

    • Belesari

      Um he was a general…..and hadnt been in a f-22……..

    • Vaporhead

      The Government is just as corrupt, if not more, then any of the contractors.

    • Amicus Curiae

      Corruption isn’t always the reason for bad outcomes. Stuff happens! May I suggest moderating accusations that there is a conspiricy to murder pilots? In addition to the obvious absurdity of it, there are people that “signed off on it” because it was believed to be airworthy based on procedures involving analysis, ground testing and flight testing. That paper trail is not anonymous. Go ahead and kick up the fuss.

      • Dfens

        There is an obvious conflict of interest within both the government and the defense contractor making the aircraft. Many jobs and billions of dollars are at stake, yet you feel comfortable saying that anyone who notices this conflict of interest is being absurd? Spoken like someone who has something to hide.

        • Amicus Curiae

          It is spoken like someone who has confidence in his own work and that of his colleagues. I have nothing to hide. Bring it on. I can tell it to the judge.

    • Chuck

      OK, you own a company, and you seriously would consider building a plane designed to poison the pilot on purpose? What is the point, especially if you lose business because of the problem. Problems happen, but if anyone seriously thinks LockMart plans to purposely poison pilots, they need to go in for some mental health check-ups. Stop being ignorant.

  • So?

    The only other plane that consistently flies that high and fast is the MiG-31. What’s the story there? OK, it has no OBOGS.

    • Praetorian

      There is no other manned aircraft in the world that can turn 6 g’s at 60,000 ft. except for the F-22. Can the Mig-31 even turn at speed ?? If it does, it most likley needs all of Ukrains airspace to turn north again :)

      I thought that the initial target problem of the OBOGS, that the US Airforce was looking at was the G’s the pilots were taking at those altitudes.

      • Stratege

        Mig-31 is capable to 5g turns. Also, MiG’s interceptor is significantry faster than an F-22.

        • Praetorian

          5g turns at 60,000 ft. ? I never doughted the Mig-31’s speed.

  • swdrumm

    I’ve got a better one: Microprocessors manufactured in a foreign (*cough* China *cough*) country are engineered with a defect that intentionally screws with the oxygen system but only at random intervals. Think Stuxnet but at the hardware level.

    USAF can’t find the problem. Lockheed can’t find the problem. The Raptor fleet is neutralized w/o a single shot being fired…

    • tiger

      Cyber war while real, is not the issue here.

    • hank hill

      YOU GOT THAT VERY RIGHT! CHEAPEST BIDDER!

  • NathanS

    Agitated, irritable, diminished appetite, trouble sleeping and foggy headed are all symptoms of depression.

    A cough and headache can be caused by any number of things including an allergic reaction to a new plant in the garden.

    It’s very hard to find a “smoking gun” here. All due respect and sympathy for the deceased family however – I know how hard it can be not to have closure.

    • Vaporhead

      Depression could have been caused by the officer constantly being sick from the jet too. Very difficult to prove, and the government can afford better lawyers.

  • tiger

    Upon further reading, the guy was not fooling arround trying to die.

    Weapon of choice?
    “Investigators determined the cause of death was one gunshot wound to the chest with Tinsley’s personal weapon — a Smith & Wesson Model 500 .50-caliber revolver, which the manufacturer touts as the world’s most powerful revolver. The five-chamber weapon, found with Tinsley’s body, contained one spent shell casing and four empty chambers.”

    You don’t need more than 1 with that cannon. http://www.arlingtoncemetery.net/tltinsley.htm

    • KRG

      I’d be curious if he shot himself in the chest so they could study his brain like a lot of old NFL players are doing.

      • blight_

        Considering the possibility that hypoxia may have effects in the lungs, if you shoot yourself in the lung you may damage one of the organs that may be worth studying.

        I suppose hemlock works…

  • dnav

    infrasound induced hypoxia symptoms have not been run to ground as a cause.

  • Tad

    Could be the F-22 did this to him. But this article sounds more like a newspaper trying to hype something up in order to get a story.

  • galloglas

    Well, the Democrats did want to cut the military, money and down grade the equipment so America cannot fight another war the democrats don’t approve of.
    four more of Obama and we will be flying F2F Brewster Buffalo’s again.

    • blight_

      Sequestration (which was agreed on bipartisan) will do the trick.

      However, it does seem rather strange that the money we used to stand up 15 divisions and a 500ish ship navy is somehow “not enough” in this day and age.

      Perhaps it’s the increasing pay for troops and healthcare, plus the increased costs of weapon systems. With economies of scale to bring kit costs down, JDAM kits have already paid off in using one bomb to do what a stick of bombs couldn’t do before.

      • William C.

        Inflation, smaller industry, higher pay and healthcare for military members, and the fact that a lot of that money is operation-specific funding.

  • blight_

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/3545176

    Acceleration atelectasis is the absorptional collapse of alveoli in the dependent lung due to increased accelerative forces. It is exacerbated by breathing 100% oxygen and, during +Gz exposure, by the use of an anti-G suit. Experiments were conducted on 12 subjects using simulated aerial combat maneuvers (SACM) with G profiles having peak exposures of either 4.5 G or 9 G. Decreases in vital capacity (VC) measurements were used as quantification of atelectasis, two types of reduction being identified and described. Labile reductions in VC were readily restored by a deep breath or cough. Such reduction approximated 28% following the 4.5-G SACM and 25% following the 9-G SACM. More persistent (so called) stable reductions were of lesser degree, values of -20% being seen following both 9 G and 4.5 G maneuvers. Acceleration atelectasis causes symptoms of chest pain, coughing, and shortness of breath. Subjective ratings of the severity of these symptoms were obtained from the subjects, and these were much greater following the 4.5-G SACM exposures than after the 9-G runs. Acceleration atelectasis was reduced by dilution of the inspired oxygen concentration by argon and nitrogen (evaluated at 95, 82.5, 70, 50, and 20% oxygen); the addition of unassisted positive pressure at 30 mm Hg (4 kPa) to the breathing mask; or the performance of the anti-G straining maneuver (AGSM).

    • BlackOwl18E

      … Apparently, I have some reading to do.

      • blight_

        So do I.

        This paper was published in 1987.

        Funny how things stay buried…

        I will have to figure out how to get a copy.

    • guest

      And now we another reason to thank the Creator for his wisdom in limiting the oxygen content of Earth’s atmosphere to 28%. Oxygen is in reality a very deadly substance if misapplied, as demonstrated above.

      • blight_

        It’s not the high oxygen, it’s the acceleration. The high oxygen just makes it worse. For the rest of us who don’t work at 9G, even at high O2 we won’t develop “Raptor cough”.

  • Matt

    Lots of people here trolling for the USAF pin-heads. There is no excuse. I am almost sick to my stomach at these recurring headlines.

    • ghostwhowalks

      Headlines are almost never correct. Nothing will compensate for his wifes loss, and the countrys. But it sounds like a personal injury lawyer is in the background here

  • Taylor

    Maybe they should try having the chaplains bless the planes and pilots. I am serious. George Washington prayed for good reason. As a nation we used to understand how important these things were, but perhaps we’ve become techno-blinded.

    • Thomas L. Nielsen

      Honestly, I don’t know what I find most scary and depressing: That you actually mean that, or that you’re just trolling….

      Regards & all,

      Thomas L. Nielsen
      Luxembourg

  • Burner

    With all sympathy to Mrs. Tinsley and her loss, I still hate finger-pointing in situations like this. It’s human nature to place blame when something bad happens–especially to a military widow that will not receive insurance benefits
    due to a suicide. But, why is the blame directed at the aircraft? Yes, there are problems with it and others have experienced health problems. Aside from the chronic coughing, the rest of Gen. Tinsley’s abnormal actions were behavioral. Instead of blaming the aircraft for his actions, maybe his known affair with another woman and pending divorce played a significant role in his actions.
    Again–my deepest sympathies to his widow and I extend condolences.

  • Tim

    This plane is a disaster !

    It has sucked the USAF budget , under delivered in all aspects , is a hanger queen due to its stealth covering has limited aspect Aesa radar coverage , missiles that don’t work at its operational altitude , poor data links , no passive infra red and poisons its pilots.

    With senior US admirals doubting the military advantage of stealth in the long term the USAF is facing a future with two jets that are a threat to the West air superiority.

  • guess

    No I don’t think any one did any thing on purpose. That its ridiculous. I’m of the opinion that we tried so hard with pushing the envelope with the F22 that the consequences are the situation that we are currently finding, with these unexplained symptoms and hypoxia incidents. But instead of admitting there is a problem and taking the time to fix it. For whatever reason it is being buried. When things are getting bad enough that someone can make the claim that the plane caused there husband to commit suicide and people can believe it, clearly there is a problem. With the image of the plane at the very least

  • Lewis

    When people with cognitive problems shoot themselves in the chest it is because they hope someone will examine their brain. The choose a slower and more painful death in the hopes of an answer being found.

    • Alan

      General Tinsley chose to shoot himself in the heart because among military leaders doing so is considered a more honorable way to commit suicide than shooting oneself in the head.

  • Jeff

    I have heard the ceiling height is 20,000 feet due to the Chinese made Oxygen System (since the only thing we make now is pizza and fraudulent financial paper).