Adam Gessaman (Twitter)
You remember the story.
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Back in 2017, someone drew a large penis in the Washington state sky with contrails. Few details emerged afterward, but the Navy said it was investigating. Then, the story disappeared.
But now the findings of a Navy probe are finally being released.
“The inside story of how an EA-18G Growler jet crew drew a penis across the clear blue skies of Washington state in 2017 has never been told,” the Navy Times wrote on Tuesday. “Until now.”
It was the work of two junior officers with the “Zappers” of Electronic Attack Squadron 130, who had sky time to kill and noticed that the white contrails their jet produced were particularly robust that afternoon.
But they never counted on those contrails lingering long enough for folks on the ground to see their phallic rendering, according to a copy of the military’s sky penis investigation obtained exclusively by Navy Times.
KREM 2, a local TV station, broke the news after a woman snapped pics of the sky drawings on Nov. 16, 2017, near a training area for the squadron, which is based in western Washington at Naval Air Station Whidbey Island.
“A mother who lives in Okanogan who took pictures of the drawings reached out to KREM 2 to complain about the images, saying she was upset she might have to explain to her young children what the drawings were,” the station reported.
And then, with social media, the story exploded.
At the time, the Navy said in a statement: “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.”
But as the story took wing (ha), “nervous commanders” filed urgent communiques to Navy leadership back in Washington, D.C., “letting them know that this was about to turn into a thing,” The Times wrote. “Within hours of the phallic rendering, the squadron sent an alert to higher ups in an ‘official information dispatch’ that reached the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations.”
“Aircrew maneuvered an EA-18G aircraft in a pattern that resulted in contrails depicting an obscene symbol when viewed from the ground,” it warned. “Media attention is expected.”
The Times had this fantastic recounting of how the drawing came about.
The EWO broached it first, according to the investigation.
“My initial reaction was no, bad,” the pilot wrote in a statement after the incident. “But for some reason still unknown to me, I eventually decided to do it.”
Their sky penis plan of attack was captured on their cockpit video recording system, a transcript of which is included in the investigation.
“Draw a giant penis,” the EWO said. “That would be awesome.”
“What did you do on your flight?” the pilot joked. “Oh, we turned dinosaurs into sky penises.”
“You should totally try to draw a penis,” the EWO advised.
“I could definitely draw one, that would be easy,” the pilot boasted. “I could basically draw a figure eight and turn around and come back. I’m gonna go down, grab some speed and hopefully get out of the contrail layer so they’re not connected to each other.”
They theorized on the second-order effects of their nascent sky drawing.
“Dude, that would be so funny,” the pilot said. “Airliner’s coming back on their way into Seattle, just this big (expletive)ing, giant penis. We could almost draw a vein in the middle of it too.”
And then, this exchange:
“Balls are going to be a little lopsided,” the pilot advised.
“Balls are complete,” he reported moments later. “I just gotta navigate a little bit over here for the shaft.”
“Which way is the shaft going?” the EWO asked.
“The shaft will go to the left,” the pilot answered.
“It’s gonna be a wide shaft,” the EWO noted.
“I don’t wanna make it just like 3 balls,” the pilot said.
“Let’s do it,” the EWO said. “Oh, the head of that penis is going to be thick.”
But shortly after the pilot finished the drawing, the lieutenants were shocked that the contrails didn’t just blow away, instead lingering in the sky. “Soon after, I realized the extent of our actions,” the pilot reportedly wrote later. “That the contrails were remaining longer than predicted.”
Then the pilot tried to erase the sky sketch. “I flew one pass over it essentially trying to scribble it out with my contrails. That pass was ineffective,” he reportedly wrote.
After they landed, the lieutenants were contacted by their commanding officer. “They both apologized and were at once remorseful,” the commanding officer wrote in a report, according to the Times.
“Even so, it has caused the United States Navy severe embarrassment in the public arena and jeopardizes the strategic narrative that underpins the justification of the flight hour program,” the investigator wrote. “Additionally, the absence of relevant, effective, professional training highlighted by the sophomoric sky drawing indicates a potential waste and misuse of government resources.”