Whidbey crew grounded after 'drawing' penis in sky over Washington

EA-18G Growler (file photo)

Navy officials acknowledged that one of its air crews was responsible for skywriting a penis over a rural Northern Washington county Thursday.

The crew has been grounded.

Local media began receiving reports of the phallic symbol above the skies in Okanogan County Thursday afternoon.

"After it made the circles at the bottom, I knew what it was and started laughing," Okanogan's Ramone Duran told The (Spokane) Spokesman-Review. "It was pretty funny to see that. You don't expect to see something like that."

Officials at Naval Air Station Whidbey Island later confirmed that one of its aircraft was responsible, saying an an F/A-18 Growler flew in a pattern "that left a condensed air trail resembling an obscene image to observers on the ground. "

"The Officers and Sailors of the United States Navy are professionals, held to the highest standards, while serving our nation with pride around world," Lt. Cmdr. Leslie Hubbell, the base's media officer, said in a statement. "The actions of this aircrew were wholly unacceptable and antithetical to Navy core values. We have grounded the aircrew and are conducting a thorough investigation -- and we will hold those responsible accountable for their actions. The Navy apologizes for this irresponsible and immature act.

"The Navy apologizes to anyone who was offended by this unacceptable action," the statement continued. "An investigation into this flight will be conducted and if appropriate, the aviator(s) responsible will be held accountable."

Later Friday, Vice Admiral Mike Shoemaker, commander of Naval Air Forces, issued his own statement.

" The American people rightfully expect that those who wear the Wings of Gold exhibit a level of maturity commensurate with the missions and aircraft with which they've been entrusted. Naval aviation continually strives to foster an environment of dignity and respect. Sophomoric and immature antics of a sexual nature have no place in Naval aviation today. We will investigate this incident to get all the facts and act accordingly.

"This event clearly stands in stark contrast to the way our aviators and sailors are performing with utmost professionalism, discipline and excellence from our carrier flight decks and expeditionary airfields around the world today."

A Federal Aviation Administration official told KREM there was nothing the FAA could do about the drawing since it posed no safety risk, adding the FAA "cannot police morality."

NAS Whidbey Island is the home to all of the Navy's squadrons of the Growler electronic attack jets, very similar to the F/A-18 Hornets used by the Blue Angels. The station is also home to four P-3 Orion Maritime Patrol squadrons and two Fleet Reconnaissance squadrons flying the EP-3E Aries.

Okanogan County sits on the U.S./Canadian border northeast of the Wenatchee National Forest.

SeattlePI.com is a KOMO News partner. You can read this story at SeattlePI.com here.

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