Navy apologizes for “dongtrails” drawn with one of their airplanes

It sounds like a plot point from a movie titled American Pie: The Naval Academy Years, but it actually happened — the U.S. Navy had to apologize because one of their airplanes was used to create a giant contrail penis in the sky of Okanogan County, Washington.

In many coming-of-age movies, an authority figure has to apologize for the young protagonist’s inappropriate and tasteless actions, and the apology sounds so straight-laced that it becomes funny in context. The Navy’s official statement on the matter has pretty much the same effect:

“The Navy holds its aircrew to the highest standards and we find this absolutely unacceptable, of zero training value and we are holding the crew accountable.”

I have questions (of course I have questions!):

  1. Can we make “dongtrails” the official word for this kind of skywriting?
  2. Planes — especially Navy planes — aren’t like cars. You can’t just take one out for a spin without informing someone; you have to file a flight plan specifying where you’re taking off from, the route you’re taking, and where you’ll land. What kind of flight plan was filed for this jaunt?
  3. While the act shows terrible judgement and reflects poorly on the Navy, drawing a giant sky penis does require some precision flying, including a hairpin turn. I’m not saying that the people involved should go undisciplined, but perhaps their skills could be channeled towards better, constructive, and even tasteful directions.

One reply on “Navy apologizes for “dongtrails” drawn with one of their airplanes”

Pilots are often encouraged to take a plane up and fly around as part of maintaining proficiency. Military planes, if they stay out of the way of civilian traffic, can fly with little more than a request to the base tower. There is no route or official plan necessary. In fact, this kind of “taking her up for a spin” is relatively common in Washington State. For example, Boeing often takes planes “up for a spin” as part their testing.

People assume that if it’s at a military facility, it doesn’t need to be locked up tight and tidy. It’s at an army/navy/air force base. What could be safer? My girlfriend’s mother and her sister lived on an army base and stole a tank back in the 1930s. Neither had a driver’s license. They were seriously chewed out by their father, the general. My girlfriend’s mother was always a bit car crazy. She drove ambulances during the war.

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