“Cockpit Cat Fight” between two Female Navigators on their First Mission.
Jay Lacklen is a former C-5 pilot with 12,500 flying hours and the author of two books, Flying the Line: An Air Force Pilot’s Journey and Flying the Line: An Air Force Pilot’s Journey Volume Two: Military Airlift Command. He’s working on the last book of the trilogy.
A significant change in Air Force culture began in 1982 when women entered the Cockpit
On an early mission in my C-5 career as a copilot, two female navigators showed up on the flight. I’m not sure why we had two, but it caused a problem on the segment coming out of Dhahran, Saudi Arabia en route to Frankfurt, Germany
I know this was early in my C-5 experience because we still had the band weather radar that wasn’t worth a damn. It showed dim spokes on its fished-out screen as it scanned the sky ahead and showed returns as ghostly, imprecise shadows with no color gradations to show intensity.
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At this time, navigators were losing their mission. Inertial Navigation Systems (INS) had severely encroached on the navigator’s space on the crew and would soon eliminate them as Flight Management Systems (FMS) provided almost all the information navigators had previously provided to the pilots.
But in the early 1980s, navigators controlled the weather radar and processed information from the triple (INS) setup. This trek across the northern portion of the Saudi peninsula, of all the hundred times I made it, had the worst weather I ever saw over this terrain.
Thunderstorms were everywhere, some visible, some not when we flew into a cloud deck. This is when near-fisticuffs broke out between the two female navigators.
Sandy and Penny, both first lieutenants, seemed to be getting along well up to this point, but interpreting the K-band returns under pressure progressively led to a raging argument about which way we should turn the aircraft to avoid storm cells.
Sandy, the pretty one, and Penny, the interesting one, hunched over the scope on the navigators’ station behind the pilot. Their voices rose in volume and their tone turned argumentative and aggressive.
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We pilots grew frustrated with the argument; we just needed someone to tell us which way to turn. We were flying blind as the argument behind us grew in intensity. Being of equal rank and crew qualification, neither seemed to be in charge. Finally, one of the women stalked to the back to check her forms see who held the earliest date-of-rank between them. That finally settled who would call the shots. I can’t remember which one it was, but we finally got
information in a timely manner. Not an auspicious introduction to women in the cockpit as a catfight erupts on my first mission with the fairer sex.
2 Pilots Fired for Bizarre Fight in Cockpit (Male pilot allegedly slapped female co-pilot)
Another Similar Incident incident occurred in an Indian airline which resulted in the firing of two pilots who reportedly fought in the cockpit, with the man allegedly slapping the woman during the New Year’s Day flight from London to Mumbai.
Indian media have reported the male pilot slapped his female co-pilot during an argument in the cockpit of the Boeing 777, and that she emerged crying and for a time refused to return to the cockpit. Sources tell the Times of India that the cockpit was briefly left unattended when the male pilot left to try to persuade the female pilot to return. The flight, which was carrying 324 passengers and 14 crew members, landed safely.
Jet Airways said in a statement that it “has terminated services of both the cockpit crew with immediate effect”
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