Until 2010, I was an active duty Naval Flight Officer (NFO) in the E-2C Hawkeye. I was the only female aviator in my squadron, the World Famous Rulers of the Planet VAW-123 Screwtops. Yes, we actually called ourselves that. It was even in my official military orders. I love Naval Aviation.
Flight school was one of the most challenging experiences of my life. I was stressed in a million new ways, and in the beginning the stress was bringing out the best in me. I excelled and was feeling pretty good, even a bit cocky.
That was all about to change.
Things ramped up as we got closer to the winging ceremony, which is, as you may as figured, the ceremony wherein the students officially get their wings. I had a lot of flights and simulator events to get through, and my multitasking skills weren’t as good as I thought they were. My confidence wavered, and my performance started to take a nose dive, so to speak.
I am eternally grateful for my mentor at the time, a talented and dedicated female instructor who took extra time to work with me. She even came in on weekends to help me in the simulator, and I know that extra bit of practice and instruction is what finally got my skills where they needed to be.
Fast forward to my last flight before wings. I was incredibly anxious, because I was scheduled to fly with a notoriously nerve-wracking instructor. Even though I had improved dramatically, I was letting self-doubt creep in where it didn’t belong.
There’s a reason that aviators tend toward cockiness. It’s practically a required trait. Generally, it applies more to pilots than NFOs out of necessity; pilots need to have the confidence to land an 80 million dollar aircraft on a flight deck the size of a 7-11 parking lot. As an NFO, you still have life and death decisions to make, just not as often, and in different arenas. So you need to be good, and you need to know you’re good. I wasn’t so sure. That’s bad.
Don’t worry, I got my wings.
Although I had wavering confidence in my military prowess, I never doubted my sexual prowess. (For a long time, I did not use my powers for good; that’s a bad girl post for another time.) So what do you do if you’re a sexually confident military woman who is nervous about an event? Wear racy lingerie under your uniform.
So that’s what I did. Lacy bra, matching thong, garter belt, stockings, everything but my whip and handcuffs.
And it worked. Every time I got sweaty-palm nervous controlling aircraft or getting grilled by my instructor, I took a deep breath, recalled my knowledge, thought “he’s got no idea what I’m wearing under my flight suit” and kicked ass.
It’s kind of like imagining your audience naked, only it’s you. And not naked. Ok, it’s a bit of a stretch, but you know what I mean.
For me, it was a tool to alleviate my stress and focus on the task at hand. It was a little bit of “I know something you don’t” that gave me a much-needed confidence boost. Every human interaction is a power play, so having a little extra knowledge secreted away gives you an edge.
Tell me your stories. What methods do you use to cope with stressful situations? Would you try mine?
Love and purple to you all,