McCain prone to mishaps as Navy pilot: report
US presidential hopeful John McCain was prone to mistakes during his time as a Navy pilot, and if today's standards were applied, his career may have ended in a hard landing, according to a report Monday by The Los Angeles Times.
The newspaper said that when McCain was training in his AD-6 Skyraider in Texas in 1960, he slammed into Corpus Christi Bay and sheared the skin off his plane's wings.
In his autobiography, McCain said the crash had occurred because "the engine quit," but an investigation board at the Naval Aviation Safety Center found no evidence of engine failure, the report said.
Instead investigators concluded that the 23-year-old junior lieutenant was not paying attention and erred in using "a power setting too low to maintain level flight in a turn."
The crash was one of three early in McCain's aviation career in which his flying skills and judgment were faulted or questioned by Navy officials, The Times said.
In another incident, McCain was "clowning" around in a Skyraider over southern Spain about December 1961 and flew into electrical wires, causing a blackout in the area, the paper noted.
In 1965, McCain crashed a T-2 trainer jet in Virginia, and after he was sent to Vietnam, his plane was destroyed in an explosion on the deck of an aircraft carrier in 1967, the report said.
Three months later, he was shot down during a bombing mission over Hanoi and taken prisoner.
The Times said it had interviewed men who served with McCain and located the 1960s-era accident reports and professional evaluations.
"This examination of his record revealed a pilot who early in his career was cocky, occasionally cavalier and prone to testing limits," the paper concluded.
It reminded that in today's military, a lapse in judgment that causes a crash can end a pilot's career.