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How a rogue pilot misbehaved for years in a B-52 squadron, and so killed 4 people | The Best Defense

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"Darker Shades of Blue: A Case Study of Failed Leadership" is a thorough, careful study of how leadership lapses over the course of several years ultimately led to disaster in an Air Force bomber wing. It's also a beautiful if horrifying exploration of how bad shit can happen despite volumes of rules and regulations aimed at ensuring safe practices are followed.

Even if you care nothing about the Air Force, it is a fascinating study of leadership, and applicable to many different situations. Basically, it is the tale of how an out-of-control pilot managed to consistently break the rules, but did so with a clever understanding of how to manipulate the system. So, for example, he would push the limits until his commander sat him down and gave him an oral warning. But these were not recorded. So the pilot, who had a reputation as perhaps the best B-52 pilot in the Air Force, would lay low a bit and then, when the next commander came in, the pattern would repeat itself. The rogue pilot got by on a series of these "last chance" reprimands. Subordinates knew what was going on, and found themselves in the position of either risking their lives by flying with him, or risking their careers by refusing to do so.

I'd rather risk my career than risk my life. They should have fired him.

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