A fresh, unique insider’s view of what it’s like to be a woman aviator in today’s US Navy—from pedicures to parachutes, friendship to firefights.
Caroline Johnson was an unlikely aviation candidate. A tall blonde debutante from Colorado, she could have just as easily gone into fashion or filmmaking, and yet she went on to become an F/A-18 Super Hornet Weapons System Officer. She was one of the first women to fly a combat mission over Iraq since 2011, and one of the first women to drop bombs on ISIS.
Jet Girl tells the remarkable story of the women fighting at the forefront in a military system that allows them to reach the highest peaks, and yet is in many respects still a fraternity. Johnson offers an insider’s view on the fascinating, thrilling, dangerous and, at times, glamorous world of being a naval aviator.
This is a coming-of age story about a young college-aged woman who draws strength from a tight knit group of friends, called the Jet Girls, and struggles with all the ordinary problems of life: love, work, catty housewives, father figures, make-up, wardrobe, not to mention being put into harm’s way daily with terrorist groups such as ISIS and world powers such as Russia and Iran.
Some of the most memorable parts of the book are about real life in training, in the air and in combat—how do you deal with having to pee in a cockpit the size of a bumper car going 600 miles an hour?
Not just a memoir, this book also aims to change the conversation and to inspire and attract the next generation of men and women who are tempted to explore a life of adventure and service.
Former weapons system officer Johnson debuts with a garrulous memoir recounting her training at the U.S. Navy's flight school in Pensacola, Fla.; the camaraderie she developed with her fellow "jet girls"; and her decision to leave the "fighter community" as a result of "harassment and gender discrimination." After graduating at the top of her flight school class, Johnson was selected for the Blacklions, an elite fighter group based out of Virginia Beach, Va. Immediately upon joining the squadron, however, she was subjected to the kinds of "microaggressions" that, she argues, wear down the navy's female aviators over time, causing four out of every five of them to stop flying at the first available opportunity. Though she took out three armored vehicles and killed 16 ISIS fighters during the 2014 campaign to rescue 50,000 Yazidis under attack by the terrorist caliphate on Mount Sinjar, Johnson stopped being assigned "prime events" after she told her commanding officer that she felt isolated by her squadmates. Eventually, she asked to be reassigned to the naval academy as a leadership instructor. An enthusiastic narrator, Johnson's love of flying comes through clearly. This no-holds-barred account will interest aviation buffs and those invested in making the military more welcoming to women.