Sunday, November 15, 2009


Salutations once again.

Great news. Managed to land some face time with one of the two top pilots going into Hell Week, Lieutenant Max Cutter. He made several interesting points that I'd like to share with you.

Here's a transcript of our conversation:

JTF: Lieutenant Cutter, the ratio of male to female personnel in the military is close to an even 50 percent. Why then, are there so few woman pilots?

MC: I'm not sure there's all that much of a gap in the pilot ranks, but it is harder for women to qualify for fighter pilot status.

JTF: Why is that? Would the deck be stacked against them?

MC: Depends on how you look at it. Mental and physical limitations affect both sexes. Women have an advantage over men when it comes to multitasking. It's why they tend to excel as transpo pilots and make more efficient and cost effective decisions on their runs.

Physically, it takes a lot of stamina to fly a spacecraft weighing close to two tons. It makes sense that men would have the advantage when pulling out of the turns or flips used to maneuver the fighters. But the physicality can hold men back, too. A guy over 6'2" can't fly combat missions…he's too tall to fit in the cockpit. But that doesn't mean he can't fly other types of crafts.

A pilot has to withstand and hold out against tremendous force while flying at high rates of speed. Women who make the grade as fighter pilots are at the top of their game both mentally and physically.

JTF: Speaking of women who make the grade, Lt. Maggie Harper is one of the few. What are your thoughts about her ability?

MC: Lt. Harper is, without a doubt, one of the best there is. She's a straight up, natural born pilot.

JTF: So, she's not only qualified, she excels at what she does. Do you find that it challenges you to be a better pilot?

MC: Because she's a woman?

JTF: Yes.

MC: Maggie's ability as a pilot challenges me. Being female has nothing to do with it. She'd be spitting mad if it did.

JTF: Then equality is important out there?

MC: Of course. I think a case could be made for it being important everywhere. I'd be strung up if I didn't note that.

JTF: Excellent point. And tying into the equality theme, you and Lt. Harper seem to alternate in the one-two spots whenever there's a new qualification run. Any chance either of you will let some new blood into the top seeds this go round?

MC: There's always a chance for that kind of opportunity. We all have off days. Anyone can bust a maneuver, blow a landing or completely miss the trap, which will cost them points and lower their score.

JTF: Even you?

MC: The brass isn't telling us much, but this is the most difficult scenario we've ever dealt with, so everything's up for grabs. I know I'm ready. I also don't plan to make it easy for anyone. I doubt Lt. Harper will either.

JTF: Do you work together to make it harder?

MC: Maggie and I? No way, it's not set up like that. But we fly together a lot, so we're good at knowing what the other will do.

JTF: And that's helpful?

MC: Absolutely. Being able to anticipate what your wingman will do not only looks good, it could save your life. Yeah, it's a big help.

JTF: Then, I'll wish you the best out there, Lieutenant. Thank you for the exceptional information.

MC: You're welcome. Enjoy the show.

Fascinating discourse about what it takes to be a fleet military pilot. Interesting that Lt. Cutter didn't discount the non-fighter ranks but also seems to respect them.

With less than a day to go for the program launch, it's a safe bet that all personnel whose qualifications hinge on the outcome are feeling the heat.

Even the best and brightest.

Keep those news feeds set to update. Lieutenant Maggie Harper is up next.


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