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Blue Angels report calls out fighter pilot culture
USNI News ^ | Jun. 25, 2014 - 04:04PM |

Posted on 06/25/2014 6:57:46 PM PDT by robowombat

Blue Angels report calls out fighter pilot culture Jun. 25, 2014 - 04:04PM |

The unique structure of the Blue Angels, who fly without an executive officer and vote to select new members, may have contributed to the lewd behavior outlined in a Navy report, experts said. Here, then-Cmdr. Greg McWherter, center, leads the team after its return to Pensacola, Fla., from training in California in 2009. (Katie King/Pensacola (Fla.) News Journal)

By Meghann Myers Staff writer

When news broke that Capt. Gregory McWherter’s high-flying career had essentially ended, support came flooding in from thousands of sailors and civilians who said he’d put the Blue Angels flight team back together after a spate of safety issues.

While his support remains strong in some quarters, the release of the Navy’s investigation into the Blue Angels under McWherter paints a picture of aviation culture lapsing into demeaning behavior from a bygone era, where porn, lewd comments and raunchy pranks are condoned — even celebrated — as “boys being boys.”

Those days are gone. In the wake of the report, many sympathetic to McWherter after his April 18 firing from his post-Blue Angels job as executive officer at Naval Base Coronado, California, were shocked that a commanding officer reportedly allowed his team to act with abandon, saying this behavior has been off limits for a long time, according to interviews with former squadron commanders.

“As a former Blue Angel, as a former admiral in the Navy, I still am having trouble getting my mind wrapped around how quickly this came about in the squadron,” retired Rear Adm. David Anderson told Navy Times in a June 11 phone interview.

Anderson and other experts believe the unique give-and-take of the Blue Angels — where a CO is both the final authority and a wingman whose flying is critiqued by junior officers — may have fostered the “toxic” culture under McWherter, whose eagerness to repair his team after returning in 2011 for his second command stint created new problems.

“And also, how it got into this mentality of a juvenile one-upmanship, to see who can shock the most,” added Anderson, the current president of the Blue Angels Association. “That’s not the Navy I know. That’s not the Navy I served in. That’s not the Blue Angels I know.”

Aviation leaders are reviewing the Blue Angel’s command structure, in light of the report that found blatant disregard for regulations.

“The totally inappropriate command environment fostered by Capt. McWherter was so unacceptable that it should have been clear to each member of the team that standards of personal dignity and respect were violated,” Vice Adm. David Buss, the head of Naval Air Forces, said in a June 3 statement.

Inside the Blues The Blue Angels are a far cry from a typical squadron: It’s a more democratic atmosphere, lacks an executive officer and boasts a selection process more akin to joining SEAL Team 6 than your average ready room, Anderson said.

“One of the hardest jobs is to go in as a commanding officer of the Blue Angels and really understand, this is a weird group,” said Anderson, a retired F/A-18 pilot who flew with the Blue Angels in the 1980s. “They vote on members to come in. How am I supposed to come in as the commanding officer, and have some junior officer at the table critique my flying? It’s a very unusual relationship.”

On the other hand, Anderson said, it’s up to an experienced CO to know when to treat his junior officers as equally capable pilots and when to be their boss.

“He has to learn very quickly when he is one of the pilots sitting around the table talking about safety of flight, and when he is the commanding officer of the squadron,” he said. “That includes command climate, morale of the troops, meeting basic standards.”

Anderson said he has spoken with senior Navy leadership as they look at steps to tweak the Blue Angels structure to prevent future command climate issues.

But making the team more like the rest of the fleet isn’t the answer, he said.

“If we were to select officers for the team the way the Navy selects officers for a squadron, it would be very detrimental,” he said.

For instance, if the squadron were to get an XO, a position typically responsible for ensuring regulations are followed and standards met, he argued the selection process should be similar to the way the team already chooses pilots, through a campaigning process and a vote by existing members.

The 1991 Tailhook scandal was a tipping point in naval aviation, where headlines of sexual harassment and lewd behavior rocked the Navy for months and forced reforms. The Navy had to take a hard look at itself in the fallout.

But in today’s climate, a retired three-star flight officer said, COs must know better — or face the consequences.

“I think commanding officers and leaders — not only COs in the Navy, but leaders in general — have to be attuned to the times,” said retired Vice Adm. Lou Crenshaw, who commanded an attack squadron, an air wing and the John F. Kennedy Carrier Strike Group during his three decades of service.

Another former squadron commander, Capt. Mark Light, said he couldn’t believe anyone would tolerate this misbehavior.

“In today’s environment, you can’t survive that way. Ten years ago, that was probably commonplace, I guess,” said Light, a former C-2A Greyhound pilot who has studied toxic leadership closely as a faculty member at the Army War College. “It hasn’t been like that in any of the ready rooms I’ve been in for a really long time.”

Others disagree, arguing that lewd behavior, name-calling and bullying are still present in some squadrons. One of them is Lt. Steve Crowston, who as an ensign in 2009 faced his squadron’s harassment culture head-on when it came time to get his call sign.

Members of Strike Fighter Squadron 136, an F/A-18 Hornet unit based at Naval Air Station Oceana, Virginia, offered up ideas like “Gay Boy” and “Fagmeister.” They settled on “Romo’s Bitch,” razzing Crowston for his loyalty to the Dallas Cowboys and their quarterback, Tony Romo.

Crowston, now the education officer on the San Diego-based aircraft carrier Carl Vinson, filed a complaint for workplace sexual harassment with his inspector general, but they found his claims to be unsubstantiated.

He took the case up to the Pentagon’s IG office, where it took a year and a half to be vindicated.

“No new evidence was introduced. How does this happen?” Crowston told Navy Times via email June 10. “I think the court of public opinion knows exactly why Navy pilots escaped substantiated charges at that time. The aviation community is thick as thieves.”

Despite that, Crowston said a stigma has followed him since — through Naval Special Warfare Group 2, Naval Ocean Processing Facility Dam Neck, Virginia, and now the aircraft carrier Carl Vinson.

“While being attached to these commands, I have publicly been called ‘Fag Boy’ in a department head meeting,” said Crowston, who added that he won’t let it drive him out of the Navy.

“I decided to stay Navy in an attempt to be a positive influence and voice for other LGBT service members who for whatever reason are not able to stand up for themselves,” he said.

Losing their 'swagger' Just months after McWherter took command of the Blue Angels for the second time, former Navy Secretary John Lehman wrote a piece for Proceedings magazine on the 100th anniversary of U.S. naval aviation, arguing that political correctness had doused the profession’s spirit.

“Those attributes of naval aviators — willingness to take intelligent calculated risk, self-confidence, even a certain swagger — that are invaluable in wartime are the very ones that make them particularly vulnerable in today’s zero-tolerance Navy,” he wrote.

There are those, however, who believe pilots can be just as fearsome in a PC climate.

Light said, today’s pilots are better fliers than ever, even if they can’t have pinups in their cockpits.

“Our aviation community is vastly more professional, vastly better prepared for every possible issue than they were 10 or 20 years ago,” he said. “I don’t see that you need to disrespect people to be a good fighter pilot, or any other kind of pilot.”

Experts say the case boils down to standards. The Navy has clear guidelines, McWherter violated them, and he paid with his career.

“He regrets it now,” said Anderson, who said he’s had multiple conversations with McWherter in recent months. “And I don’t think he regrets it only because of his career, but because of his personal reputation. And that’s not Greg McWherter.”

On top of that, Anderson said, every officer in that ready room is responsible for letting the behavior continue.

He said professional training taught those officers what was appropriate, and that it was their duty to try to fix it.

“This is not ‘boys will be boys.’ This is Navy standards,” he said. “If this was a college campus, if this was a small company that did not have to answer to the American taxpayer, they may get away with it. ... But in this day and age, I just don’t see this as a tool that’s acceptable under any circumstances.”


TOPICS: Culture/Society; Government; News/Current Events; Philosophy
KEYWORDS: aerospace; navair

1 posted on 06/25/2014 6:57:46 PM PDT by robowombat
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To: robowombat

Great pilots.

When they do a show here, they do a run through the day prior, just like the thunderbirds do.

It’s like they’re in my backyard.

Local USAF fighter pilot says ‘those Navy guys really hang it out’


2 posted on 06/25/2014 7:02:35 PM PDT by stanne
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To: robowombat

Sorry - in view of the reckless law breaking going on in government and their wanton targeting of american citizens today I just can’t get all worked up over little infractions of political correctness.


3 posted on 06/25/2014 7:04:37 PM PDT by skeeter
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To: robowombat

Go ahead and risk your lives flying high performance aircraft at the edge of the envelope, but don’t you dare crack a sexist joke.

Get a life.


4 posted on 06/25/2014 7:05:21 PM PDT by Yo-Yo (Is the /sarc tag really necessary?)
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To: robowombat

Can’t we just let our warriors be warriors...it kinda matters when we get to our next real war.


5 posted on 06/25/2014 7:06:00 PM PDT by TheErnFormerlyKnownAsBig (This town needs an enema)
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To: robowombat

This really short of facts and tall on breathless accusations. Pinups in cockpits? Jokes about homosexual callsigns? For heavens sake...


6 posted on 06/25/2014 7:08:49 PM PDT by Durus (You can avoid reality, but you cannot avoid the consequences of avoiding reality. Ayn Rand)
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To: robowombat

“Our aviation community is vastly more professional, vastly better prepared for every possible issue than they were 10 or 20 years ago,” “

Everybody knows thats BS. If it was true, it wouldn’t need to be said.


7 posted on 06/25/2014 7:10:33 PM PDT by DesertRhino (I was standing with a rifle, waiting for soviet paratroopers, but communists just ran for office.)
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To: Yo-Yo; All
It is all about breaking down ‘the white male paradigm’ in the armed forces. These fellows are very high profile so the thought reform specialists will give them a lot of scrutiny. When are the BA’s going to have a transgendered pilot, when will they have an openly gay flight commander? These are substantive issues. Think I am joking. I have heard Beltway warriors raging over the ‘G-D- Robert E Lee mythos’ and how it has to go before the armed forces can be really a part of the new borderless world global governance regime.
8 posted on 06/25/2014 7:11:41 PM PDT by robowombat
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To: robowombat; Jet Jaguar
Ping to JJ.

I don't give a damn about a few indiscretions attributed to our elite fighter pilots. They go balls to the wall when it counts - in battle.

PC maggots: Stop your whining!

I used to live a couple miles from Homestead AFB - bumper sticker: "If you ain't a fighter pilot, you ain't shit!!!

My hats off to them!



America demands Justice for the Fallen of Benghazi!

O stranger, tell the Lacedaemonians that we lie here, obedient to their command.

Listen, O isles, unto me; and hearken, ye people, from far; The LORD hath called me from the womb; from the bowels of my mother hath he made mention of my name. (Isaiah 49:1 KJV)

9 posted on 06/25/2014 7:11:58 PM PDT by ConorMacNessa (HM/2 USN, 3/5 Marines RVN 1969 - St. Michael the Archangel, defend us in Battle!)
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To: TheErnFormerlyKnownAsBig

Amen!


10 posted on 06/25/2014 7:15:41 PM PDT by RushIsMyTeddyBear (Great vid by ShorelineMike! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KOZjJk6nbD4&feature=plcp)
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To: robowombat

The pussification of the US military continues.


11 posted on 06/25/2014 7:17:48 PM PDT by E. Pluribus Unum ("The more numerous the laws, the more corrupt the government." --Tacitus)
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To: ConorMacNessa

Quite a few years ago, I was in Jimmy’s Pawn Shop in Ft. Walton Bch. FL. It is more of a high end sporting goods store than pawn shop. A few months before, I had bought a new leather jacket sort of in the style the WWII Bomber jackets and was wearing it.

I happened to notice a guy at the gun counter wearing a real one with the “Nomads of Eglin AFB along with other trappings printed on it.

Boy that looked cool and you have to earn those.


12 posted on 06/25/2014 7:19:31 PM PDT by yarddog (Romans 8: verses 38 and 39. "For I am persuaded".)
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To: robowombat

I guess the message is “don’t you dare be heterosexual in today’s armed forces”.


13 posted on 06/25/2014 7:20:14 PM PDT by 2111USMC (Aim Small Miss Small)
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To: robowombat

Sounds like the fighter squadrons I was in during my years in the USAF. And yes, if you don’t swagger a bit, you are not fit to be a fighter pilot - a fact lost on our PC military.


14 posted on 06/25/2014 7:22:30 PM PDT by Mr Rogers
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To: robowombat
When I read this stuff, I weep for my once great nation.

I've said it for years: Political Correctness will destroy America. Unless it is vigorously opposed at every level, that is a fait accompli.

15 posted on 06/25/2014 7:23:29 PM PDT by Skooz (Gabba Gabba we accept you we accept you one of us Gabba Gabba we accept you we accept you one of us)
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To: robowombat

I recently got a chance to spend some time with the Blue Angels and there isn’t another group I would rather be around. Top to bottom, they are remarkable people. The officers respected the enlisted members and the enlisted respected the officers. Everyone worked hard and did their job to the best of their abilities.

So what if they work hard and play hard? That’s what military men have traditionally done.


16 posted on 06/25/2014 7:29:32 PM PDT by MediaMole
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To: TheErnFormerlyKnownAsBig
There used to be more teaching & learning going on during happy hour at the NAS Miramar O’Club’s WOXOF room than in any venue on or off base. Experienced pilots & RIOs/NFOs taking the nuggets on their wing and discussing the finer points of flying. And that was with loud music, strippers, & pitchers of beer flowing. The same at Navy, Air Force, & Marine bases worldwide. All gone now with women and queers running the military. Have no use for the Pretty Boy admirals quoted in the article. They're just protecting their jobs & pensions. Let's see what happens when we come up against fanatics such as the Chinese, Norks, our even the Russians. All the PC bull$h!t in the world won't stop them from doing a lot of damage. Oh, and CAPT McWherter was railroaded by one anonymous, disgruntled sailor who brought a complaint long after McWherter had completed his second tour as CO of the Blues.
17 posted on 06/25/2014 7:30:17 PM PDT by twister881
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To: 2111USMC
’ guess the message is “don’t you dare be heterosexual in today’s armed forces”’

Yes, I would imagine gay porn pictures in a BA pilots work area would be considered ‘inclusive’. You are correct about the hetero male image it definitely is being combated at every level within the military as the model. On the last segment of the TV show ‘Black Box’ the plot revolved around an emergency surgery on a female SEAL Team 6 member shot in the head in Syria. To my knowledge there still are no female SEALs but that is neither here or there. The program sub-plot was about how a heroic gay USAR officer saves the life of another reservist during a training accident after enduring mean anti-queer remarks from other reservist. This crap is endless in the popular culture and you know it is being deliberately pushed .

18 posted on 06/25/2014 7:31:50 PM PDT by robowombat
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To: robowombat

They cannot alter the makeup of the fighter pilot community at will. And definitely not so, the performance groups. If they lower the standards to do so, planes crash, and in this case, into crowds.

If they want to deteriorate this group, the only thing they can do is eliminate. If that’s what they want to do, then we’ll see.

If they can find an openly gay person to fly the way these guys do, I doubt hi or her life would be all about being gay.


19 posted on 06/25/2014 7:40:05 PM PDT by stanne
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To: twister881; All
‘Have no use for the Pretty Boy admirals quoted in the article. They're just protecting their jobs & pensions. Let's see what happens when we come up against fanatics such as the Chinese, Norks, our even the Russians. ‘

Yes indeed. Take a look at ‘The Day’ by Kipling about what happens in the ‘unforgiving hour.’ Or another very un-PC work Fehrenbach’s ‘This Kind of War’. Back circa 1965 that was in almost every combat arms officer's library in the US Army. It deals in an impressionistic but brilliant way with the many unforgiving hours that followed the NORKs crossing the 38th Parallel in 1950.

20 posted on 06/25/2014 7:42:08 PM PDT by robowombat
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To: stanne
‘If they can find an openly gay person to fly the way these guys do, I doubt hi or her life would be all about being gay.’

Yes, that is what the phrase ‘Affirmative Action’ is all about. Giving the unworthy the places the worthy earn. Here in the swamp state of Louisiana we are seeing the attempt by possibly the dumbest three star general in recent Army history, Russell Honore, trying to get a ‘non partisan environmentalist’ balloon inflated so he can be trotted out as the future Dem candidate against Vitter for the governorship. Honore was above his level of incompetence as an 0=-5 and he moved up to a three star position because of his color and his oily personality and fake ‘real soldier’ persona. Now he is back after disappearing mercifully after his Katrina turn which the Bush people thought was brilliant optics. His dimness is appreciated even in this sinkhole well enough that I doubt if his balloon will greatly rise.

21 posted on 06/25/2014 7:48:50 PM PDT by robowombat
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To: robowombat; blueyon; KitJ; T Minus Four; xzins; CMS; The Sailor; ab01; txradioguy; Jet Jaguar; ...

Active Duty ping.


22 posted on 06/25/2014 7:54:02 PM PDT by Jet Jaguar (Resist in place.)
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To: robowombat

Everything will be fine when the “openly gay” homosexuals are flying the Blue Angels. No more of that man sh*t going on!


23 posted on 06/25/2014 8:07:44 PM PDT by FlingWingFlyer (Feed the wacko enrviromentalists to the starving polar bears.)
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To: robowombat

I’ve never seen the TV series “Black Box,” and after reading your post, I’ll be sure to never watch this PC, miserable excuse for a TV show. Thank-you for the heads-up.


24 posted on 06/25/2014 8:11:38 PM PDT by july4thfreedomfoundation (I don't want to feel "safe." I want to feel FREE!)
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To: twister881
WOXOF

LOL, I have not heard that term recently, but in my whole 20 years as an air traffic controller, I only saw WOXOF conditions once, and it was not in Vietnam. BTW, like fighter pilots, most USAF air traffic controllers have a bit of a swagger too.

25 posted on 06/25/2014 8:16:42 PM PDT by Mark17 (Rudyard Kipling: Liberals be wary, when the SHTF, The Wrath of the Awakened Saxon will clobber you)
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To: Mark17

Aviators can’t do it without controllers. You earned your swagger. My first night carrier approach was a hook-down, full stop in 300-1/2 Wx. Worst June gloom off the West coast I can recall. CV had gone all the way up to SFO to find holes. Didn’t squeeze the black juice out of the stick, but man, I appreciated that calm CCA voice in my headset. Made an OK3, no lie!


26 posted on 06/25/2014 8:30:41 PM PDT by twister881
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To: robowombat

If only they had all declared themselves to be “gay”...


27 posted on 06/25/2014 8:40:08 PM PDT by Gay State Conservative (Rat Party Policy:Lie,Deny,Refuse To Comply)
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To: stanne

About 20 years ago I attended an open house at an AF base near me.The thing I remember best is the low altitude flyover of a B-1...afterburner blazing.That thing was LOUD!


28 posted on 06/25/2014 8:42:57 PM PDT by Gay State Conservative (Rat Party Policy:Lie,Deny,Refuse To Comply)
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To: twister881

I developed, among other things, Cat 11 ILS approaches. The minima being 200 and 1/2, so you were slightly above that. That was while GPS satellites were still being launched. I retired in 1987, before any GPS procedures were created, so I do not know what sort of minima exists for any type of approaches they use now. I just wonder if the minima are now lower than 100 and 1/4? We had that low minima in the 60s, with PAR. In bad wx, in Vietnam, I had more than one pilot tell me I put him down, dead on the runway centerline, but I also know, that in bad wx, pilots tended to do exactly what we told them, rather than maintaining VFR all the way down to the runway, ergo, right on the centerline. Those were the days, but when it came time to retire, I was more than ready. I had the course, and could not wait to get out. I always wanted to grow up to be a civilian, it just took me 20 years to realize my dream.


29 posted on 06/26/2014 12:43:11 AM PDT by Mark17 (Rudyard Kipling: Liberals be wary, when the SHTF, The Wrath of the Awakened Saxon will clobber you)
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To: Mark17

The highest level of “autoland” (Cat IIIc?) will put the airplane on the runway and stop it there, to wait for the “tug”, with no human intervention.


30 posted on 06/26/2014 5:25:57 AM PDT by DuncanWaring (The Lord uses the good ones; the bad ones use the Lord.)
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To: ConorMacNessa
No ConorMacNessa, with all of the training, fanfare, equipment and attention they are given, they should be as squeaky clean as the Honor Guards of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

Wait! WHAT?

You mean these are the finest, most skilled HOTDOGS in the entire United States Military?!? Why yes they ARE!

How about this, you PC pukes, GO EFF YOURSELVES! I am sick of this and it is killing our military.

Next, our POSPOTUS will order those stickers to say, "If you ain't LGBT, you ain't shit." I am disgusted!

31 posted on 06/27/2014 1:23:35 PM PDT by houeto (https://secure.freerepublic.com/donate)
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