The Navy may never reach its goal of 355 ships, but by George if the service’s pilots didn’t motivate the hell out of aviators everywhere last November to deliver what the admiring earth-bound public most craves: The most artistically crafted sky penises in the Western Hemisphere.
Today, high over the Mad Max-ian wasteland that is California’s Salton Sea, a T-34C aircraft belonging to the Miramar-based Marine Fighter Attack Training Squadron 101, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing appeared to be in a holding pattern, looping effortlessly over the San Andreas Fault-based rift lake before continuing on its merry way toward Palm Springs International Airport.
But this was no holding pattern. Much as Claude Monet applied soft, surgically meticulous brush strokes to his iconic masterpieces, so, too, did the pilot of the T-34C deftly weave the aircraft through the sky to reveal an atmospheric tour de force.
Radar readings first picked up the triumph — a sky penis, which appeared to nestle over the ancient salt deposits of the Salton Sea in the bosom of the Chocolate Mountains.
The Twitter account for Aircraft Spots hurriedly distributed the Rembrandt-esque artistry to the masses, and users made haste to bask in its glow. Like a child’s laughter, the illustration sent thunderous jubilation throughout the populous.
“It was surgical,” one user wrote. “Attention to detail is critical in naval aviation,” another chimed in. “God Bless America,” said another.
Maj. Josef Patterson, spokesman for 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, confirmed the aircraft indeed belongs to Marine Fighter Attack Training Squadron 101.
Patterson was unaware whether the pilot was an instructor or in training, “but I can say the investigation is already underway,” he told Marine Corps Times, before adding that the drawing obscures the many good deeds done by Marines.
“A T-34C aircraft assigned to Marine Fighter Attack Training Squadron 101, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, flew an irregular flight pattern over the Salton Sea that resembled a phallic image," an official 3rd MAW release said. "An investigation to uncover the facts and circumstances surrounding the incident is ongoing. The aircrew’s chain of command are committed to maintaining an environment of professionalism, dignity and respect. The Marines and Sailors of 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing will perform at the highest levels expected of professional war fighters, and uphold our core values of honor, courage and commitment.”
The Marine Corps would not, however, provide an update on what sort of commendation — realistically, punishment — the aviators would be receiving for such an aesthetically pleasing masterpiece.
For the field of aviation, one which has been plagued by cockpit oxygen quandaries, this was a breath of fresh air.
Today’s monumental sky penis now takes its place among aviation’s noteworthy accomplishments. In fact, on this day in 1927, Charles Lindbergh wrapped up his goodwill tour of 48 states. October 23 — a historic day.
Jon Simkins is a writer and editor for Military Times, and a USMC veteran.