The Navy apologized on Friday and said it has grounded an aircrew from Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, Washington, after its pilots drew a giant penis in the sky with jet exhaust on Thursday.
“The actions of this aircrew were wholly unacceptable and antithetical to Navy core values,” the Navy said in a statement. “We have grounded the aircrew and are conducting a thorough investigation—and we will hold those responsible accountable for their actions. The Navy apologizes for this irresponsible and immature act.”
“The Navy apologizes to anyone who was offended by this unacceptable action,” it added. “An investigation into this flight will be conducted and if appropriate, the aviator(s) responsible will be held accountable.”
On Thursday, pictures surfaced on social media of a penis drawn in the sky, prompting mostly amusement:
The most monumental thing to happen in omak. A penis in the sky pic.twitter.com/SM8k1tNYaj
— Anahi Torres (@anahi_torres_) November 16, 2017
Pilot: I’m doing it
RIO: not a good idea, Mav
Pilot: it’ll be hilarious
RIO: *sigh, shakes head https://t.co/jRrIGjNoeC
— Frumentarius (@SOFFru1) November 17, 2017
Your move, Air Force. https://t.co/sSr4yQHgqD
— Aaron Mehta (@AaronMehta) November 17, 2017
The Navy later acknowledged that an aircrew from Whidbey Island flew an F/A-18 Growler, which was assigned to Electronic Attack Squadron 130, in “an air pattern” over Okanogan County, Washington, that “left a condensed air trail resembling an obscene image to observers on the ground.”
“The Officers and Sailors of the United States Navy are professionals, held to the highest standards, while serving our nation with pride around world,” the Navy said.
The commander of U.S. Naval Air Forces also issued a statement on Friday.
“The American people rightfully expect that those who wear the Wings of Gold exhibit a level of maturity commensurate with the missions and aircraft with which they’ve been entrusted. Naval aviation continually strives to foster an environment of dignity and respect. Sophomoric and immature antics of a sexual nature have no place in Naval aviation today. We will investigate this incident to get all the facts and act accordingly,” Vice Adm. Mike Shoemaker said.
“This event clearly stands in stark contrast to the way our aviators and Sailors are performing with utmost professionalism, discipline and excellence from our carrier flight decks and expeditionary airfields around the world today,” he said.