In today's military, a lapse in judgment that causes a crash can end a pilot's career. Though standards were looser and crashes more frequent in the 1960s, McCain's record stands out.
"Three mishaps are unusual," said Michael L. Barr, a former Air Force pilot with 137 combat missions in Vietnam and an internationally known aviation safety expert who teaches in USC's Aviation Safety and Security Program. "After the third accident, you would say: Is there a trend here in terms of his flying skills and his judgment?"
Jeremiah Pearson, a Navy officer who flew 400 missions over Vietnam without a mishap and later became the head of human spaceflight at NASA, said: "That's a lot. You don't want any. Maybe he was just unlucky."
Unlucky! Yeah, that’s what I was wondering when I wrote about just that thing earlier this year after reading through McCain’s bio on Wikipedia.
Imagine if McCain had not been the son of an admiral (and the grandson of another admiral), those mishaps might have ended his flying career before he was sent to Vietnam where (surprise, surprise) he crashed his jet one last time and got taken prisoner.
The whole John McCain story would have been different in that case. If they had grounded him like they would have done with any other military airman at the time, he would never have been a POW and thus probably would not have gone into politics and thus would not be running for president today.