Navy Blue Quietly Rolls Out First Maternity Flight Suits
The Navy welcomed its first female aviators in 1974. Just 47 years later, it offers pregnant pilots a flight suit to suit them.
The service quietly handed over the first maternity flight suit to Lt. Cmdr. Jacqueline Nordan, head of the mobilization program in the Naval Air Force Reserve, as part of an early distribution program, officials said this week. Several other pregnant members of the command were also given the uniform in a test to determine its usefulness, Navy spokeswoman Amie Blade told Military.com.
The Navy also began distributing the flight suit more widely in May through a crew systems advisory for the fleet, Blade said.
“An interim quick-action change has been drafted for the aircrew clothing maintenance manual informing maintenance managers of the procedures to be followed in acquiring a maternity flight suit,” she said.
All pregnant Navy flight attendants are now eligible to wear the garment, which features adjustable side panels and provides a more comfortable and professional fit as an aviator’s pregnancy progresses.
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“Prior to the maternity flight suit, pregnant crews typically collected larger size flight suits and increased additional sizes throughout their pregnancy, potentially requiring three to five additional flight suits,” Nordan, who has previously been assigned to an EA-18G Growler squadron, the statement said in the statement. “Wearing a larger size flight suit results in longer hems and sleeves, potentially posing a safety hazard to the crew permitted to fly during pregnancy.”
She added that the loose, oversized flight suits just don’t look professional.
“Pregnant crew members who are not flying continue to do business with the squadron,” she said. “They always teach, work in simulators, give briefings and represent their organizations. It makes a big difference to be able to continue to represent us professionally in a well-fitting uniform throughout a pregnancy.”
It was actually the safety risk of larger flight suits that prompted the development of the maternity uniform, Blade said.
“A single adjustable flight suit can span multiple trimesters depending on each pregnancy, saving pregnant crews the additional expense associated with purchasing multiple flight suits, as well as the cost of tailoring suits. Larger flight purchased historically to accommodate changing enclosure shape, “she said.” Stretch side panels allow flight attendants to wear their arms and hems the usual length, reducing the risk of danger for the safety.”
But most pregnant naval aviators are still stuck on the ground. While the Air Force has decided in recent years to create policies that allow pregnant pilots to fly for much of their pregnancy if they choose, the Navy has yet to follow suit.
According to Navy guidelines updated in 2017, pregnancy is considered a disqualification for flight duties, although crew members may request a waiver requiring approval from a local council of medical officers. air.
“Designated naval aviators who are licensed to fly during pregnancy must perform flight duties in a Group 3 medical service capacity only,” the guide said. This category refers to aviators limited to operating dual-control aircraft and accompanied on all flights by a pilot or co-pilot with a less restrictive medical qualification.
Single-pilot, ejection-seat, high-performance airplanes capable of firing more than 2 G are completely prohibited, as are airplanes that perform on-board operations and those with cabin altitudes above 10,000 feet. And after the start of the third trimester, theft is completely prohibited.
In 2019, the Air Force got rid of a medical exemption requirement for pregnant pilots who wanted to fly later in their pregnancy. It also widened the standard flight service window for pregnancy by five weeks, allowing pregnant pilots to fly from weeks 12 to 28 if they so choose. Later that year, Lt. Col. Jammie Jamieson, a member of the Air Force Women’s Initiative Team, said the service was evaluating the science in an effort to further reduce restrictions.
The Air Force has also taken steps to design and purchase maternity flight suits, launching canvass and testing efforts in 2020. The initiative caught the attention of conservative specialist Tucker Carlson earlier this year. He presented a photo of an Air Force captain wearing one of the flight suit prototypes and scoffed, saying such efforts were “a travesty of the US military.”
Military leaders from all departments were quick to condemn Carlson’s attack.
“Women lead our deadliest units with character,” Army Sergeant Major Michael Grinston replied. in a tweet. “They will rule ANY future battlefield on which we are called to fight.”
– Hope Hodge Seck can be contacted at [email protected] Follow her on Twitter at @HopeSeck.
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