Tuesday, March 1, 2011

The FP stereotype (part 2)


Not only are there stereotypes from people outside the fighter community about fighter pilots, there is also another set of stereotypes INSIDE the fighter community about what a “true” fighter pilot is.  I found out about these first hand.

Quite a while ago, I had a “wife of authority” tell me that I was more like a “fighter pilot” than my husband was.  She informed me that it looked bad when my husband held our daughter at squadron family functions, and that I should be the only one holding her while he socialized with the guys (that he’d already spent 12+ hours at work with).  She told me that I needed to get my husband to act more “fighter pilot-ish” or that his career in the jet would be very short lived.  I didn’t know whether to laugh or to cry during that conversation, and honestly, I think I did a little of both.  (In her defense, she was just trying to help, but our views of Mark’s role as a fighter pilot are vastly different.)  It took a while for it to all sink in, and then I got pretty pissed off.  There seems to be the mentality, of some, that you’re not a true fighter pilot unless you party every weekend, are loud and obnoxious, pull pranks on people whenever possible, and walk around like your sh*t doesn’t stink. 

My husband is one of the most humble and modest guys I know.  Every once in a while, when he does something impressive (outside of work) he’ll jokingly say “And that’s why I fly jets.”  (And then every time he does something dumb I say “And that’s why you fly jets”.)  But he’s not one to brag about anything (with the exception of our kid), and he’s a pretty quiet guy who likes to stand on the sidelines and observe, instead of be the center of attention.  He gladly works the church nursery with me, and has fun with the kids.  I’ve gotten many compliments from friends about how he’s a natural with children.  He obviously loves flying the jets, but he loves spending time with his family even more.  I’ve had quite a few people tell me that he doesn’t fit the fighter pilot mold, and most of them mean it in a great way, but there have been a few in our past that look down on him because of his personality.

There are some people that have preconceived notions that fighter pilots are/should be: egotistical, macho, big partiers, heavy drinkers, cuss frequently, etc.  A lot of this stems from way back when, when young kids (late teens/ early 20’s) were flying planes in wars.  I think back then they probably did live a pretty care-free lifestyle and “lived it up” to the best of their abilities.  There are still people in the fighter community that hold tight to these old values that were created years and years ago and this is where the discrepancies come into play.

Is someone a fighter pilot because they like to drink and be loud and obnoxious and pull pranks on people?  Or is someone a fighter pilot because he flies a fighter jet for his country?  Is it based on their personality or their ability?  Mark’s previous commander made it very clear that there are “fighter pilots” and there are “people who fly jets”.  By his standards, Mark was most definitely not a fighter pilot because he doesn’t drink a ton, he’s definitely not a “life of the party” type of guy, and he puts more emphasis on family than your average “fighter pilot”.  It seemed like Mark stuck out like a sore thumb in his last squadron since most of the guys were more “push it up” type people, but in his current squadron, I think Mark fits in much better.  There are quite a few more family-oriented guys in the squadron and Mark has had discussions with many of the guys he works with that have kids about how it’s hard to be away from them.  People here are much more laid back and not as out to impress as they have been previously, which is why Mark fits in much better.

So what do you think makes someone a fighter pilot?  Do you think someone is or isn’t a “true” fighter pilot, based on their personality?  Does anyone else have any experience with this?



Elyse said...

Friend, I have so much more respect for Mark as a fighter pilot because of who he is and the type of personality he has. He is such a nice guy and if anyone asked me to describe him as you said I would say he is a nice guy, humble, and very family oreinted. I am thankful for all "fighter pilots" and what they do for me and my country, but if I had to choose who was fighting for my freedom I'd much rather pick someone who has their head on their shoulders and isn't worried about where am I gonna party next or get a beer. I think you and Abbie are so lucky to have Mark and vise versa. You all complement each other very well and you can tell how special you and Abbie are to him. To me thats what life is about family. Anyone who puts their career before family is missing out!

LEWilliams said...

Get Mark of copy of the book, "Christian Fighter Pilot." Brandon read it and enjoyed it. The author is a F-16 pilot and gives an very accurate account of how to be a "good guy" in a fighter squadron.

Elsbit said...

I have no opinion on this other than to say that Mark sounds like a great guy. I hope you had or will have the ability to tell such snotty women off in the future. Ug. I don't think I could handle being around FP WIVES OR their husbands if they are that douchey.

Angie said...

I think I would've had a lot to say the moment that she said something like that to me. That's just downright rude. I'm happy you have such a wonderful man, who is the right kind of carefree and isn't getting sucked into fitting the stereotype. Reading this post reminded me of the firefighters too. Most act the same way.

Anonymous said...

From my mom who doesn't know how to post comments on here: "That makes me cry too. You'd have to look far and wide to find a more dependable man that your Mark is. In my estimation he is the epitome of what a fighter pilot should be - someone who is steady and doesn't make rash decisions but who uses his intellect to determine the best plan of attack. You are so blessed to be married to a man who is such a good husband and father and who isn't willing to give up his convictions for the sake of what others might think he should act like."

Unknown said...

It's funny that you bring this up because there is a girl at the radio station who's boyfriend is a pilot. I guess he recently got the assignment he really wanted and Cori (new chic, story for another day) sent out a congratulatory e-mail and the girl came back and basically told her that they knew he was getting the assignment because he parties and drinks a lot with the guys. I thought that was pretty tacky but it goes along with what a pilot is in Enid. As I said before, Mark is like no other pilot I've met and that is a great thing. Don't let people bring you down because you've got a keeper! ;)

Anonymous said...

I am glad your husband is the family type, the Nickel seems to be the family type of group verses the Buzzards. I have seen quite a few wives facebook photos after a Buzzard Pilot house party and they are quite hilarious...but then again I double take and most of them have children, where those children are who knows...hopefully in bed.

I try and keep my thoughts of a fighter pilot to the thoughts of Top Gun. :) Maverick is just too hot too :)