Fighter pilots on speed?

  1. Did any of you see the news reports that American fighter pilots in Afghanistan and those being sent to Iraq are given amphetamines and encouraged or coerced to use them on missions? Does anyone else find this scary? The report came to light because the fighter pilots charged in the friendly fire incident last April in Afghanistan that killed 4 Canadians and wounded 8 others took the pills before that mission.

    The armed forces says it prevents fatigue, but are other countries encouraging their soldiers to do this? Seems very unsafe to me. If it were a reliable method of combatting fatigue you'd think residents and doctors would be safe using them, but I guarantee you I wouldn't want my doctor on them.
  2. Visit fergus51 profile page

    About fergus51

    Joined: Jul '00; Posts: 11,351; Likes: 383


  3. by   prmenrs
    I saw that, too.

    All I can say is: O. M. G.

    Can they spell addiction?
  4. by   renerian
    I did not hear this. Did you read it somewhere? I would like to read it so I can comment to someone higher up.

  5. by   NancyRN
    I find this very hard to believe. My son holds four pilot licenses(private, commercial, instructor, multi engine), and he can't even take OTC cold medicine within 24 hours of a flight.
  6. by   2ndCareerRN
    For those of you who find this hard to believe, DON'T.

    It has been a practice of the US and other militaries to use performance enhancing drugs since WW2. They really started being used extensively during the Viet-Nam conflict.

    The most popular one has been speed (dexedrine). It is all about attempting to wring the last bit of usable performance from the soldiers and airmen. Of course, the government would also provide downers for the other end of the mission so the men could attempt to get some rest.

    Consider the source, but there is some truth in the article:

    A search on google, or another search engine should turn up more sites for you.

  7. by   sjoe
    2nd career writes: "It has been a practice of the US and other militaries to use performance enhancing drugs since WW2. "

    I would only add: not just since WWII, but all through that war (heavy use on BOTH sides) and ever since. The USAF routinely gave pilots speed during the Cold War in Europe as well, when I was there, not just during "hot" wars.

    Surely, you don't think MASH-type health care providers in these conflicts refrained from using stimulant drugs when they had to be be awake and alert for days on end in some cases? Would you prefer the surgeon fell asleep doing your operation, or an operation on your relative in uniform, or that he (usually male) be somewhat wired?

    Of course speed can be misused/abused, as can alcohol. Some pilots were just as aggressive and hostile for this reason when they were not flying as some surgeons are, and I had run-ins with more than one (pilots, not surgeons). But speed obviously does have productive uses as well, as the military has discovered, and is not simply to be blanketly condemned by people reacting in a knee-jerk manner because of current anti-drug propaganda.

    (And, no, I don't use it myself, already being sufficiently quick-tempered.)
    Last edit by sjoe on Dec 21, '02
  8. by   fergus51
    It was on 20/20 and the government doesn't deny it. They say it helps them deal with fatigue. Of course, they also said it was banned in the early 90's and has just been reintroduced.

    I don't think this is a kneejerk reaction. Doctors say this drug can impair judgement and increase aggressiveness and lead to addiction. None of these seem like positive attributes for a guy in a fighter plane. The regulation is also extremely lax. Soldiers just sign their names to get 6 pills at a time.

    The pilots who killed the Canadians also said they were told they could be prevented from flying if they didn't take it, even though they didn't want to.
  9. by   fergus51
    Originally posted by NancyRN
    I find this very hard to believe. My son holds four pilot licenses(private, commercial, instructor, multi engine), and he can't even take OTC cold medicine within 24 hours of a flight.
    One of the fighter pilots in the story also is a full time pilot for American Airlines and said the same thing, which is why he didn't want to take them in Afghanistan. He said they are not taking them so they can stay awake for "days on end" like doctors in war zones may have to be. They are taking them for 7 hour night shifts, which he said would NEVER be allowed at American Airlines or any other company.
  10. by   oramar
    I saw the last part of that program and I kept telling myself that since I did not see it all I must be mistaken. Now that I have read this thread I find my worst fears are realized. Hope the goverment is gearing up it's drug treatment programs for after the war. Those that don't kill themselves from poor judgement mistakes are going to need detox. If I were the families of the Canadian soldiers bombed on the ground I would be outraged. This put a whole different complexion on all these friendly fire incidents that have been occuring.
  11. by   globalRN
    It's true was in the local newspaper today about the practice of putting pilots on drugs
    and I agree with fergus.
  12. by   semstr
    Well, this was talked about years ago, as a US-fighter, thought it very funny to fly under the cables of a mountaincablecabin in Cavaleze (It). Unfortunately he touched the cableds and the cabin crashed down, killing all the people in it. (up to 20 as far as I can remember)
    US-government and the Forces tried to hush everything up, saying technical stuff was fault etc., but people living in that area then told the media, that the US-fighters were doing that all the time.
    Never heard anything about it anymore!! Strange isn't it?
  13. by   Dplear
    Not only fighter pilots get the dexidrine but so do foot soldiers and anyone else that may be involved in long term combat activities. It is a fact of life that they use these drugs. I would rather they be on the drugs than not and suffer from fatigue and get them selves killed because they lost thier edge. We are talking about the military here, they need every bit of advantage they can get. If it is drugs then hand the pills out.

  14. by   Dplear
    The pilot of theat incident was court martialled and sent to prison for that incident,. He was disobying orders about his flight and was punished for it. That pretty much ends the story there so that is why the media has dropped it.