Thursday, September 09, 2004

The Doctor Is Somewhat Confused About These Memos...

The internet is abuzz with talk about the possibility that the "new" Bush Air National Guard memos are forgeries and that CBS has been hoaxed. You can go here, here, and here for updates. My problem with the memos is the content, particularly the content of the May 4th memo purportedly ordering Lt. Bush to get his flight physical.

I am a former NASA flight surgeon. I did physical exams on members of all the military services, including ANG. People report normally for a PEX (physical exam) by the last date of their birth month. Bush's birth month is July (DOB July 6, 1946). WHY WOULD HIS CDR ORDER HIM TO REPORT OVER 2 MONTHS EARLY FOR HIS ANNUAL PEX? Especially since we know that GWB was flying in April (he had 7 flight days according to the records).

If Bush was already aware that he would be going to Alabama--where they did not have the plane he was trained in and where the CDR of the Alabama unit had already told him they had too many pilots, but that he was "welcome" to come-- Bush would have allowed his flight status to lapse, since NO pilot willingly will permit a physician to do a PEX if he didn't have to.

Nothing in these new memos makes sense from the flight surgeon point of view. And, of course, the timing is awfully suspicious.

UPDATE: Allah in his mercy has graciously linked to this site! Welcome..

UPDATE: 9/10/04 - someone emailed me questioning my background and stating that the government only initiated the "birth month" rule for flight physicals about 10 years ago. In response to that email I'd like to state that I received my flight surgeon's wings through the Air Force (I was detached to them from NASA for that purpose) and did my training, including the flight training portion in the T-37 ("Tweetie Bird")--although we used T-38's at NASA. I was at NASA 20 years ago and routinely did flight physicals on active astronauts who came from every military service. Our exams had to meet the rigid requirements of the Navy, Air Force, Army and Guard flight requirements. So, as of 20 years ago, using the last day of the birth month was somewhat routine. Of course, I have no idea if that was the case during Vietnam--and have said so on various forums when asked. I am not aware of anyone being "ordered" to take the PEX, it is just standard procedure to do so annually, otherwise your flight status will lapse and you won't be permitted to fly any aircraft.

If someone has information about the Vietnam era practices, I would be happy to hear it. I am perfectly willing to believe that things were different then and my points may not be relevant. But attacking my credentials and other BS won't cut it with me.


Anonymous said...

"...since NO pilot willingly will permit a physician to do a PEX if he didn't have to"

Perhaps, w/o being too graphic, you can shed some light on why this would be. Some people are saying, "Well, if it was just a physical, why didn't he just show up for it?" as if it was no big deal. You apparently think it was. Y?

Dr. Sanity said...

All you have to do is read Tom Wolfe's "The Right Stuff" and you will be introduced to the pilot's visceral antipathy to medicine and physicians. A flight physical can take days to complete and includes many different tests that are considered rather unpleasant by not only pilots, but the general public. It is perfectly understandable that Bush would not be inclined to undergo the exam and associated tests, if he knew he would not be on flight status anyway. Believe me, if a pilot could avoid it, he would.