Every flight school class has “that” student.
The one who unwittingly hits on female instructor pilots at off-post establishments, throwing his car keys on the bar, and referring to them as the “keys to the F-22”.
The one who claims to fly around celebrities and dignitaries…in his Apache helicopter.
The one who shows up to the first day of flight school, already having picked out his callsign. (Ahem, Lieutenant “Phantom” of the Puerto Rican National Guard)
But rarely has such gleeful abandon approached the levels of that of a US Navy ensign, who penned the novella, “Becoming a Fighter Pilot in 2011 and Beyond: The First Edition“.
The punch-line, of course, is that this particular ensign was still in Primary at the time, and has yet to be awarded his wings, let alone step into the cockpit of an F/A-18 fighter jet. (In his defense, as a T-45 track, he may still have that opportunity).
I’m all about leader development, so I think I should take this opportunity to warn the young ensign that your reception at your first unit will be interesting to say the least. Start building that resiliency now.
A few years ago, a trio of newly-minted Chinook pilots arrived at their first duty station, Fort Drum, NY. Filled with piss and vineagar (or more accurately, beer and hot wings), they approached a group of young maidens, and told them tales of their experiences as combat Chinook pilots.
Unbeknownst to our three heroes, the young maidens were members of the Chinook company’s Family Readiness Group, having a girls’ night out.
(We won’t say exactly how this story transpired, though I should add that if an enlisted crew chief ever goads you into taking off in an F/A-18F–a two-pilot aircraft–with just you and him in the cockpit, you may be getting punk’d. Fair warning.)
In fairness to the young ensign, I’ve volunteered to read his entire book, and give a little bit of the MST3K treatment for those of you wanting to learn about the trials and tribulations of a Naval Aviator. It’ll even feature my special robot friends!
Now, the book’s going price of $70 may seem expensive, but according to Chapter 13 (“Pilot’s Salary”), I can well afford it.
Plus, as every aviator knows, $70 is chump change when it comes to buying that Breitling…