Cockpit Porn — A True Story

January 1990. Kansas City International Airport, Missouri. We just flew in from my domicile — Kennedy Airport in New York — on the first leg of the first day of a five-day trip. This was a new crew I was flying with — reserve duty was the norm during the first months of a pilot’s career at Trans World Airlines, so I filled in where they needed me and only flew one trip at a time with each crew.

I was second officer, aka flight engineer, aka third person in the cockpit of a Boeing 727. I was also the only woman in the cockpit, which had not been an issue thus far in my new job as an airline pilot. The pilots had been welcoming. But while we waited on the tarmac in Kansas City for the next flight to board, the captain reached into his flight bag and pulled out a magazine. Not just any magazine, Penthouse magazine.

The captain flipped through the pages slowly, and when he got to the centerfold, he unfolded it reverently into a full display of a buxom blonde clad in nothing but cowboy boots.

“Hey, Pete,” he said to the co-pilot, “check out this piece of ass.”

The co-pilot looked at the picture voraciously. “Oo-wee!” he said, smacking his lips.

The captain laughed.

Really?? Was this how it was going to be? They sure didn’t want a woman in their cockpit, and they might as well have made an announcement over the loudspeaker:

Hey, y’all, just because there’s a broad here in my formerly all-male cockpit, I’m not changing anything. She wants to work in this man’s world, then I treat her just like any other man.

And this was just the first leg of the first day of a five-day trip.

19 thoughts on “Cockpit Porn — A True Story”

  1. Wow, Ken, I guess you have to be a woman in order to have a simple bit of respect for others. Good to know.

  2. This is when I would unfold my MALE Centre fold with only boots on and comment on his rock solid… ummmmm…abs lol

    1. LOL!! In the cockpit hierarchy, at least at that time, the captain was king, so as a new hire and only third in command (I was flight engineer on the B727), I didn’t dare give any throwback. In retrospect, it’s all rather amusing 😂

      1. She wants to work in this man’s world, then I treat her just like any other man. Since when is flying an airplane part of a man’s world. This floors me but I know this goes on. How sad.

      1. I would of open my magazine with a male centerfold …and comment on his abs …amongst other things😉

  3. Why is it when women enter what was a male dominated job that the men have to change into women to make them happy? You asked to be there then want them to change and expect no blow back.

    1. That behavior wouldn’t be correct in an all-male cockpit. Irrespective of the audience it is objectifying women.

      1. I agree. My husband is a pilot and would be disgusted by this behavior. Thankfully, times are changing and most pilots are smart enough to not want a sexual harassment charge these days.

        To Ken, if looking at porn is your idea of being a man then I feel sorry for you and any woman in your life. That’s an evil that kills your soul and ruins all relationships.

  4. I wonder if things are getting any better. Not by 2014 apparently, according to this story: https://mashable.com/2014/10/29/air-canada-pornography/

    At one point I saw that someone was “fighting back” by inserting photos of Male “beef cake” in the “special” hiding spots. It’s sad, but true, that a lot of men are emotionally stuck at about 14 years of age and racist and misogynist to boot. Wonderful. And I hear some young women claim that there is no longer need for a Women’s Movement (lib) .. wake up, kids. It will always be necessary.

    1. Wow. Thanks for sharing this, Grant. Apparently, I touched a nerve with some professional pilots on Facebook — they’ve told me to “get over it”! All I’m doing is sharing a story. BTW, I’ve downloaded both of your books. Looking forward to reading them.

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