I had a slight difference of opinion with my good mate James H today over one such F-14 Navy Pilot who - May She Rest in Peace - was somewhere at the bottom of her class and crashed her plane just a few months after getting all her cats. The reverberations persist and blame is thrown around like flailing limbs.
I am usually very 'onside' with JH. He is a good customer and a mate. I am uncomfortable being disagreeable with him or being seen as overly ''Chivalrous'. I am a whack'em sort of chap, rather than a cloak over the puddle sort. So let us take a little time looking at the scene.
Kara Hultgreen's class comprised the best of the best and she was pushed up the greasy pole, albeit with footholds hammered into place for her so that she could achieve what the men could. The few men who got that far.
Even many of those who get as far as landing a plane on a Carrier do not get a Carrier posting. She got that far, again albeit with some pushing and shoving by her trainers, supervisors, military Leaders and Politicians. They have a lot to answer-for. But she could handle the plane. She could fly it. She could land it on that moving postage stamp out there in the ocean.
There is still controversy about the times and the political atmosphere which was exacerbated by the usual suspects - the Feminists - over the 'Tailhook' affair. The politicians wanted women in the armed forces. At the 'glamourous' peaks. Girls could be, should be, Tom 'Top Gun' Cruise too, no matter the dangers. Kara 'Revlon' Hulgreen was the sacrificial lamb.
I said it is a dangerous game. She is just one of many (all men at that time) who have crashed at sea.
I do not doubt at all that she was competent. It takes some longer than others to get up to speed and some need 'extra' effort. Few are 'naturals' at that game. There is nothing natural about human beings flying or landing on aircraft carriers. It is very un-natural. She did not have enough time before her untimely end to become an 'Ace', or even a 'standard' for others to follow and emulate.
She was a 'nugget', a newbie, a tyro. But even the best of the best can be unseated.
She was destined to be a 'Poster-Girl' for all the feminists wannabees that were gaining the reins of back-seat power in Gummunt and media. They pushed her. They pushed the Politicians who pushed the Admirals who pushed the Captains who pushed the squadron instructors.
Kara just wanted to fly.
She was someone's little girl once. With spirit.
The shit hit the fan of course. The media went to town on the issue. Heads were sought for rolling.
One could argue that perhaps she should have been 'chopped', the way a young man would have been. She was given chances that a young man would have given his eye teeth for as he walked back across the dispersal after his chop-ride. She got another go. And another. A better man? Maybe.
There is clear evidence that far better men made way for her. There were Double Standards applied. And she died because of that.
But at the end of the day, a fine young woman died. Pushed over the edge.
Many a fine young man has gone over that edge too.
That's equality for you.
Pray for Kara.