Lt. Ashley "Mumbles"Pilot/Navigator and weapons' officer : F-14 Tomcat
Female Navy Pilot "Mumbles" smiles aboard the USS Carl Vinson
"Mumbles", (C) a 26-year-old female US Navy pilot holds her helmet as she finishes gearing up with two male pilots in the same Black Lions Squadron on the USS Carl Vinson, one of at least three aircraft carrier battle groups in the Arabian Gulf, October 18, 2001.
Lt. Ashley "Mumbles"
The Girl who grew up to bomb the Taliban
By Martin Bentham and Adam Lusher
It is an astonishing story: how a sporty pupil from a leading British public school who once dreamt of becoming an air steward grew up instead to be a hot-shot pilot, flying daily bombing raids on Taliban forces in Afghanistan.
Ashley attended the upmarket Sevenoaks School in Kent. She captained the school at cricket, played in the netball team and went on to study economics and accountancy at a London university.
When she grew out of her girlish ambition to be an air steward, a career in the financial world beckoned. By then, however, Ashley had set her sights on something different: becoming one of the first females to be an elite "Top Gun" pilot in the US Navy.
Lt. Ashley "Mumbles"
Last week, she stood on the decks of the USS Carl Vinson, the vast aircraft carrier, laughing as she spoke of her typical British background. Several thousand kilometres away in Surrey, her parents also spoke of their pride in their daughter's extraordinary exploits. ...more
Elite Fighter Pilots Go by Humble Names
By Claudia Parsons, 22 October 2001
ON BOARD THE USS CARL VINSON (Reuters) - Fighter pilots on the U.S. aircraft carrier Carl Vinson may do the most glamorous jobs in the navy but you wouldn't guess it from the names they go by. Shorn, Mumbles, Lamb, Stroke, Pooh and Lips are just a few of their call signs.
"They don't give out call signs like Iceman and Maverick," said Brian, better known as Beke. "You can only do something stupid." "If you're called Shooter it's because you shot your foot or something," said Shorn, whose call sign comes from the movie Austin Powers and, like, many of the nicknames is not the sort of thing you'd want to explain to your grandmother. "It's nothing to do with my grooming," Shorn said.
Andy, a pilot from Santa Barbara, goes by the name Stroke because when put together with his surname it makes a phrase that makes the pilots smirk. His surname cannot be given because of military security rules. "It's got to be something that makes the other guys laugh," said Shorn.
Pilots do not get to choose their own call signs. Junior officers come up with a list of suggestions and the senior officers have the final say. "When you first arrive they usually put a list of 40 on the board, the first 10 are always the same -- dumb ass, idiot, that kind of thing. Nobody gets them," said Beke, whose name stands for Been Everywhere, Know Everything. There's also an Ike, standing for I Know Everything. "You don't usually change your call sign unless you do something stupid, like Tufi, he left his helmet on shore," said Shorn. Tumbleweed became Tufi, standing for "Tumbleweed You +++++++ Idiot."
Not all the call signs are lewd and rude. "There's Lamb, Little Angry Man Boy," said Shorn. "He likes to call himself Psycho but we don't let him... And Lips, you have to see him to understand the humor of that." "We have a guy called Rooster, with red hair." Mumbles, one of the few women pilots on the Carl Vinson, is so called because she spent the first 22 years of her life in England and her American colleagues say they can't understand her accent. "It's not quite British and not quite American, it's mumble-ese," said Shorn.
A burly pilot dubbed Pooh from Petaluma, California, got his name from Winnie the Pooh. "I don't want to go into that," he said when asked why. One of the newest pilots in the Black Lions squadron with Shorn and the others has just earned himself a new call-sign Bits, standing for Been in the ++++. "He came back from his first mission saying he was shot at and everything but it didn't bother him, he'd been shot at before out shooting pheasant," said Stroke. "He earned a new call sign with that."
'I was smiling: I had dropped my bombs. They hit'
By Martin Bentham and Adam Lusher : 21 October 2001
It is an astonishing Girl's Own story: how a sporty pupil from a leading British public school who once dreamed of becoming an air stewardess grew up instead to be a hot-shot American pilot, flying daily bombing raids on Taliban forces in Afghanistan.
Ashley - we cannot reveal her surname - attended the £9,800-a-year Sevenoaks School in Kent. She captained the school at cricket, played in the netball team and went on to study economics and accountancy at a London university. When she grew out of her girlish ambition to be an air stewardess, a career in the City beckoned.
By then, however, Ashley had set her sights on something different: becoming one of the first females to be an elite "Top Gun" pilot in the US Navy. Although she had been brought up in Surrey, her ambition was possible because she had been born in Texas, to American parents who emigrated to England when she was six months old. ...more
'Get Out of My Way'
Women now account for nearly 1-in-5 members of the Air Force, and they're increasingly being assigned combat roles
By Susan H. Greenberg NEWSWEEK
Oct. 29 issue - Stationed aboard the USS Carl Vinson, Lt. Ashley likes to "walk early." In the lingo of Navy aviators, "walking" means suiting up for battle. "I wake up, I breathe, I hit the head, then I walk," she says. Every day she flies, she visualizes the battlefield. "What you see on television is what I see for real."
Once her F-14 Tomcat takes off, concentration edges out fear. On her first combat mission this month, she flew over northern Afghanistan at 15,000 feet, looking for her assigned targets: two antiaircraft batteries. After she hit the first one, she says, "they woke up pretty good." Puffs of gray antiaircraft fire streaked up from below. "I was thinking, 'You don't want to hang around here,' but we had another target, so we came around and hit that, too," she says.
Flying back to the carrier, Ashley (the Navy allows the use of first names or call signs only), 26, couldn't stop grinning. "I was smiling at the fact that I had done my thing for the country."