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

    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.

    • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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?

  • stephen russell

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

  • 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.

    • 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.

  • 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…

  • 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.

  • 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_

    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).

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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).