Commander told female pilots to “be a bro,” said they’d more likely to be chosen for leadership positions

Students in Undergraduate Pilot Training at Laughlin Air Force Base, Texas, fly the T-38 Talon, a twin-engine, supersonic jet trainer. After their first solo flight, they received their call sign. (Steve White/Air Force)

Documents from a 2018 investigation revealed just how toxic conditions were for female trainees at a US Air Force flight training base, allegedly basing advancement on how well women could interact with their male counterparts.

The 87th Flying Training Squadron, part of the 47th Flying Training Wing at Laughlin Air Force Base in Texas, was rocked with scandal two years ago, leading to several commanders being relieved in October of the same 2018.

The Undergraduate Pilot Training program was reportedly split for females into two unofficial groups: the “bros,” who were not easily offended by the male-dominated flying community, and the women who were.

What was implied, according to the Air Force Times, was that the former would generally go on to have more fulfilling careers than the latter.

Maj. Gen. Craig Wills, commander of the 19th Air Force that oversees flying training, denounced such practices in 2020.

“AETC and 19th Air Force are committed to fostering a climate where every airman feels welcome, valued and included,” Wills said. “Every flying instructor in AETC is held to a high standard.”

Willis went on to state that such matters were not force-wide.

“While the vast majority of our instructor force is setting an excellent example, we will deal swiftly and firmly with any reports of conduct that fail to match our standards,” Wills said. “We owe our airmen, family members and citizens an Air Force that exemplifies our national aspirations and ideals.”

The report, dug up by the Air Force Times, is published at a time when many within the USAF feel that female and minority pilots are underrepresented.

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