The Academy Insider Your Guide to The United States Naval Academy

#029 - The First Female Blue Angels Pilot - Katie Cook '08

March 02, 2020 GRANT VERMEER Season 1 Episode 29
The Academy Insider Your Guide to The United States Naval Academy
#029 - The First Female Blue Angels Pilot - Katie Cook '08
Show Notes Transcript

Katie Ann (Higgins) Cook

Katie who is a 2008 graduate of the Naval Academy, joins the podcast while serving as a United States Marine out of Houston, Texas.  She was in the 13th Company and a political science major with a minor in Spanish. She was a member of the women's swimming team.

Katie has a deep connection to the Naval Academy as her father, uncle, brother and sister-in-law are all academy grads.  She was selected to the United States Marine Corps Aviation community out of the academy and ultimately ended up flying the C 130.

After flying combat missions in Afghanistan, she tells us the story of her applying for the elite Blue Angels demonstration team and how she was selected.  She gives us a candid look behind the curtain of the difficulties of being a woman in a male dominated environment as well as the look at what an amazing experience being in the Blue Angels is.  She shares some hilarious stories.

I have to ask her about how she ended up being a guest on the popular show "The Bachelor" which I love (she was not there as one of the women competing to date/marry the bachelor) and she gives us some behind the scenes perspective on "Pilot Pete" and that show.

This is a great episode with an incredibly bright, funny and wise Marine Officer.  We learn so much about Marine Aviation, the Blue Angels, life and leadership.  She has an incredible message and I was inspired by her and her story.

Katie's message is incredibly motivational and I encourage you to share this episode with others especially people feeling alone in a situation.

Invite Katie into your event to discuss stories of her success in mostly male dominated professions and fields; the United States Marine Corps and Naval Aviation. Hear her stories and recommendations of how diversity and inclusion can help your organization or group excel in the 21st century.

Be sure to review and subscribe to The Academy Insider with Grant Vermeer podcast on Apple Podcasts or where you listen to podcasts.

Follow the Academy Insider on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.

Links Mentioned in the Show
Katie's Book Recommendation - Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg - If you want to order a copy go to the Academy Insider Amazon store at https://www.amazon.com/shop/academyinsider.

Katie's Website - http://katieanncook.com/
Katie's Twitter - https://twitter.com/gearupflapsup
Katie's Instagram - https://www.instagram.com/gearupflapsup/?hl=en

As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.




Grant:   0:03
This is your host Grant Vermeer Naval Academy class of 2017 and I'm your academy insider. It's my goal to be your guide through the Naval Academy experience. By sharing my stories and providing you inside information into the life of a shipment. Academy insider is in no way officially affiliated with the United States Naval Academy. All of the content on Academy Insider is my own and does not reflect the views of the United States Naval Academy, the United States Navy nor the Department of Defense. Calm seas Don't make a skilled sailor. This is a phrase you're gonna hear in this episode coming from Katie Cook, who is a class of 2008 graduate from the United States Naval Academy. And she joins me here today on Academy Insider to talk about her experience from the Naval Academy when she went on to service select Marine Corps Aviation and flew combat tours in Afghanistan as a Marine Corps K C 1 30 pilot. After that time, she then went on to be selected as the first female pilot to represent the Navy and Marine Corps. As a Blue Angels pilot, she went on to fly fat Albert. So she comes on the episode today. In the moment she showed up for the interview wearing her working blue shirt from the United States Naval Academy. I knew this interview is gonna be an absolute blast. It is a hysterical 45 minutes of us talking together. So I hope you guys really enjoy it. Blows. Importantly, I really hope you hear her message. Because Katie truly serves as an inspiration to so many women out there who are in mainly male dominated career fields and how she handled that experience and continues to act as a Trailblazer and role model for women all around the world. So make sure to check this interview out. I think you guys will really enjoy it. Have fun. All right, everyone, and welcome to Academy insider and Katie, thank you so much for taking the time to join us here today to share some of your stories and insight with us.

Katie:   1:58
Yeah, sure thing. Thanks for having me. Great.

Grant:   2:00
Absolutely. Before we do get started today, if you don't mind just taking a minute to introduce yourself to the audience. Explain where you came from, how you ended up at the academy and then a little bit of background about yourself as a midshipman company major. And some of the activities that you are a part of.

Katie:   2:14
Yeah, sure. So, um, my name is Katie Cook. I am best known for being the first female Blue Angel pilot to fly with the team. And as far as my history with the academy is actually pretty robust, my father was class of 81. His brother's class of 76. My brother's class of 10 his wife, his class of 11. And then I'm I'm class of 08, so Ah, pretty extensive history there. Well, I was at the academy. I was in 13th company. I was a political science major with a science with Excuse me, Spanish minor. Um, and then I ended up doing VJ epa's well, so I went to Georgetown while I was diligent academy. And that weird program, huh? Yeah. And

Grant:   2:58
what do you study for a reject

Katie:   3:00
international security at George, huh? Yeah. So really great opportunity. And then I swam a couple of years. Well, I was there and then towards the you know, back half of my time. They're academics, just got too much to be able to think, but, um, yes. Oh, that's that's basically I ended up going there. Really? Because my dad exposed it to me, and and I knew I wanted to do this kind of life of service, Whether that was, you know, be a police officer, firefighters, something like that I knew I wanted to give back. And then ultimately, you know, at one point I considered even going to the nunnery. But I want to have kids, Nathan toe like, frown upon that. You're, um, apparently landed on the military's being kind of the path for me. And because of my dad's amazing example, I kind of followed in his footsteps to the academy.

Grant:   3:49
Yeah. And did you have any idea that you wanted to specifically go Marine Corps or aviation, for that matter? Kind of what influences at the academy lead you in that direction?

Katie:   3:58
Yeah. So, going into it, I was gonna be a Navy jet pilot just like my dad. Um, And while I was there, I still kind of really fell in love with aviation and that, and that was still the path that I wanted to go. Um, but during my summer training. Actually, I was exposed to, like, very, very high quality enlisted marines. Um, and And my company officer was a Marine, and and so I think you know that the idea of honor, courage, commitment the J. J. Did type buckle these things that the Marines like, truly and still really spoke to me while I was there. And, you know, it was right before my senior year or my first year for those I usually have to convince, you know, but for my first year, because everyone listening kind of knows what what that is. But right before my first years when I kind of changed my mind that, you know, the Marine Corps kind of was more in line with the values that I wanted to live my life by, um, and that's ultimately what led me to choose Marine Corps air.

Grant:   4:55
Absolutely. And once you got down to flight school, how did you decide on what aircraft you want to fly? Because it sounds like originally, you wanted to be a jet pilot, but you didn't end up doing that. Kind of what led you into the actual aircraft that you were flying?

Katie:   5:07
Yep, So obviously life happens, and sometimes you don't have a choice. And the Marine Corps gets their choice too. Right? Um So while I was in flight school primary specifically, I was actually almost in an accident. A pretty severe accident. I was flying formation with another, Um, another pilot. We had our instructors with us. Obviously, there was some disoriented warranting weather, and, ah, you know, my We ended up in the clouds. I was not instrument qualified. So my instructor was flying. Um, and you know, I was looking outside because I was a brand new boot pilot that didn't know what was going on, you know? And then all of a sudden, all I saw were trees. And so, like instinctively, I pulled the stick back to my stomach. I ended up bringing out my instructor. We pulled like, 7.6 G's. We overspend the aircraft over jeet it and my wingman still hung on the whole time. And when they pulled the black box were 50 feet off the ground. So, um, is, you know, pretty, you know, terrifying, to be honest. Um, and at that point, you know, I kind of made the decision in my mind like, Yes, I always want to be the tip of the spear. Yes, I wanted to, like, drop bombs on the enemy. And, you know, that's why I joined the Marine Corps. He said, you know, support those reins on the ground. But, you know, that literally scared the poop out of me. And so, you know, I thought I could take I could, like, maybe not be the very tip of the spear, you know, maybe a little bit further back, and and so I I decided on a C one thirties was kind of the past for me, Um and and things kind of ended up, we might talk about this a little bit more, but things ended up falling into place because later on in my career, I was actually on the C 1 30 harvest talk, which is what shoots the Hellfire and Griffin missiles. So I ended up being ableto achieve that mission of, you know, close air support in all that stuff. Still on the C 1 30 platform, which was great. So all my dreams came true.

Grant:   6:59
Yeah, that's fantastic. And so when you were part of that, where is that. Ah. So forgive me for not fully understanding the intricacies of that aircraft. Where were you stationed? And did you get that opportunity to fly that aircraft, like in actual operations and combat zones?

Katie:   7:16
Yes, exactly. I did. So, um, there's there's three C 1 30 active duty squadrons in the Marine Corps. Um, out in Japan. Then we have one of Miramar, California, and then Interior Point, North Carolina. I was stationed with the MGR to 32 Auditory point, North Carolina. There's my first active duty squadron after flights, Will and ah. So the Harvest Hawk is what we call a roll on roll off capability. It's a little bit of a misnomer, but what that means is, like, you can convert a normal C 1 32 this hellfire carrying gun ship, if you will, Um, in just a matter of days on end. So, uh, in in a normal squadron, I got trained in the close air support mission. I deployed, um, to Afghanistan in January 2013 and you know, we in my one harvest hawk, we took one harvest talk and three other, you know, normal, See, one thirties, mom, that one Harvest Hawk employed more than all other fixed wing assets combined in the Helmand province area. So all of the F eighteen's all of the Harriers, although all of them lumps in combined. We employed more than that, which was crazy. So we're very busy. But we made a really big impact over there. And it's something that, um, you know, I'm very, very proud of in my career.

Grant:   8:30
Definitely that's that's way cool. And for anyone who may be listening, whether it's ah, high school student, maybe even a midshipman or a parent of someone who may be interested in Marine Corps aviation, what would you tell them about your experience? And what would you tell him about the culture of Marine Corps aviation if they just kind of want to learn more about it and what it's all about?

Katie:   8:48
Yep. So, uh, what I would say about Marine Corps aviation is, even though we razz each other like we make fun of Ospreys and called them plop tres or whatever legal, even though we made a Razzie color like everything that the Marine Corps flies has a purpose and has a mission, um, and has a really awesome community that you can go to. So if you're a flight student, maybe you don't get your first choice and you end up, you know? Hey, I wanted to win thirties, but I'm flying skids now, or whatever it is like you can bloom where your planet and have an awesome, successful career with really great opportunities. Um, and for those that are interested in rank or aviation, I would say that in general, the wing is a little bit more laid back than the ground side. But obviously we still are all marines at heart. We're all you know, rectal platoon commanders, um or rifleman, this is You hear that phrase? Ology. So we all have that foundation of being Marines. So we pride ourselves on the professionalism and everything that comes with being a Marine. But I would say we are a little bit more laid back in the wing.

Grant:   9:54
Definitely. And during that time, So obviously you were saying first female Blue Angel pilot, where there are a lot of women in Marine Corps aviation at the time. Or were you one of the few women in your squadron while you're going through that finally, KC 1 30 as well.

Katie:   10:10
Yeah. So both my deployments. I was the only female aviator all in on them. Um And so, Yeah, they're not many of us to give you an idea of the Marine Corps, at least when I was going through with 7% women. So that all of the Marine Corps. So if you shrink that down to the officer corps than you shrink it down to aviators and you streaking down to K with KC one thirties like there's a handful of us, Um, and I've only met maybe three or four others, and some of them are more senior than me. And some of them are more junior than may. So way we are not very common. Um, and so yeah, it was It's an interesting experience, but the academy isn't. When I was there, I think my class was like, 18% major percent women. So, you know, my whole basically military career has been male dominant. And so it wasn't anything like out of the ordinary.

Grant:   11:04
Yeah. Um, and how was how was that transition to then going from Ah, KC 1 30 squadron to going to the Blue Angels? So first of all. How did that happen? Like, how do you get detailed to go to the Blue Angels and then with that? How is it that transition going into what for people from the outside, you see, is like the rock stars of the aviation community where they do super cool things. And they were cool flight suits and just have a much fun.

Katie:   11:32
Yeah. So, um, to apply for the Blue Angels. You actually, they released what are called Ma Rodman's or knave admin. So these are messages that go out to the entire fleet, and they call for people to apply, and so that in these messages, that list like, you have to have this many hours and these qualifications and you know, all that stuff. And so once you met, meet those wickets you put in an application, which is basically the size of about a college application. A normal college, not an academy application, which is ridiculous, like a normal college application, including, like, pictures, and you get recommendation letters from people on. Then you actually go to two shows. Um, where you are not only kind of seeing what the life is like, but you're you're also seeing, like, can you live 300 days out of the year with these people that are currently on the team, you know, and they're doing the same for you. And so it's kind of like a We're not supposed to call it this anymore, but like rushing a sorority or fraternity, Um and so you go and you kind of hang out with them, see, see what life is like. And then, if you're selected as a finalist, which is the top two people applying for that position, you go down for Beach Week down in Pensacola, which is during their beach show up in school in mid July. There, you'll get like, fitted for the blue flight suit. In the event that you get selected, you take your official picture. You do like a formal interview, which is like, super intimidating. You do some social events to meet the wives and some of that, um, and then at the end of that week, you fly back that Friday and then you call into Boss's office and you find out if you got selected S O. So that's basically how you get there and then the transition. I would say, Um was extremely hard for I would say, like me and the other fellow Marines is one. It's a Navy squadron. So it's a different mindset. And as much as we are sister organizations, business is done very differently between them. Ring Corps in the Navy and I'm a one is better than the other, but it's it's just very different. So trying to adjust to the Navy life was strange. Additionally, I I was literally coming off a combat tour. Yeah, you know, as were some of my other fellow Marines. And so rolling straight into, like a you know, kissing babies and shaking anything was also like a mind shift that you had, you know, and then cut mine, coupled with, like, now, the pressure of your the first female to do this and everyone's watching. It was, and I didn't join the Marine Corps to be on TV or be famous or anything but that I just wanted to, you know, protect those Marines on the ground. So it was definitely like a It was an adjustment, Um, and it is a lot of hard work, and it's very tiring schedule. We're on the road 300 days out of the year. 75 different show sites. When we're not flying, we are doing like public outreach events that were going, you know, meeting people were doing media interviews and all that stuff. So So that's why you're only on the team from, like, 2 to 4 years. Depending on the position, you can get burned out. Yeah, and and they want youto to accurately reflect the men and women of the Navy and Marine Corps team that are out there deployed. So if you were like, Hey, my MOS is demonstration pilot, You're out of touch with those people who are, actually, you know, fighting the good fight on the front lines. And so that's why you kind of rotate,

Grant:   14:52
rotate? Yeah, absolutely. And as you were mentioning, kind of as a Trailblazer in this community league community, did you feel any resistance from within the squadron to trying to integrate with having a woman and come and join their unit, which just hasn't happened before? Was that part of your experience?

Katie:   15:09
Very much so. So definitely. When I was on the team, that was a topic that was I would never discuss. See it. Um, But now that I'm almost, you know, five years displaced from being on the team, Absolutely. I definitely felt some resistance. Um, it wasn't like outward misogyny or very blatant, you know, discrimination. But it was, like, more kind of backhanded being excluded from things or being told I can't fly certain shows, you know, because I was getting too much attention. Um, and I can I can give you, like, a peek behind the curtain that you know. Unfortunately, that still happens. Like today I've had I have had things where I was going to speak at the academy in a blue angel. Alumni threw his weight around so that I couldn't come like it. It still happens today, which is crazy that it's been five years, and people still are, you know, are putting up obstacles basically for petty reasons, you know, whatever. You just gonna put your head down and keep going, you know, like to step over those obstacles because it's not me that has the problem. The problem with those people who can't wrap their mind around divers fighting force is more combat effective. Then, you know Ah, non diapers force.

Grant:   16:33
Absolutely. And kind of what have you learned from all these experiences? Because even when you were flying in your combat tours, you were still in a like, mainly male dominated field. And with these units, did you ever I hate to put its way, but ever Did you ever get used to it or how did you keep going through, Like dealing with a lot of these struggles? These obstacles and these resistance is or you're just trying to do your job?

Katie:   16:56
S O, I would say, you know, the Marine Corps, despite, you know, some of the things that you've heard on on maybe the television lately. You know, Marines united that scandal that just happened a couple years ago, or or whatever. I would say my time in like Marine Corps units was the best, most inclusive time of my career. I was the only female in both my deployments, but I had a plethora of brothers that were looking out for me and had my back, no matter what I never felt at in danger of sexual assault or anything like that, They they always had my back. They always protected me and, you know, they valued my input. They valued my ability in the aircraft. Eso ay, ay. The Marine Corps Service has always been supportive. Never treated me any differently. Um, the only time that I actually felt treated differently was when I was in Navy commands. Um, and that and I'm again not trying to hit on the naval service. It just happened to be, um the only experience I felt was it once one incident when I was in flight school, and then when I was on the Blue Angels and it just happened to be that they were both navy commands and again I had no, there's amazing naval officers out there. My brother is one my sister in law. My father, Um and so I'm not trying to lump everybody, and it doesn't happen to be that way in my career,

Grant:   18:16
Absolutely. And in with those experiences that you've had, do you ever like, sit back and think about, um, kind of the influence or impact you may have on younger women that may be interested in aviation? And do you ever talk to people or share those thoughts and experiences and try and encourage people to get more into the aviation community.

Katie:   18:35
Yeah. So I actually have a small business on the side. My side hustle, if you will. That, uh, where I do motivational talks predominantly to, you know, female organizations and stuff like that. I'm so I'm able to kind of evangelize, if you will, about aviation in the movie Arian And, you know, being a blue angel and how I got there. Um, but yeah, I think in the beginning, when I first joined, I had no idea that I was even gonna have an impact on, you know, the history of of military aviation. Um, it was a little off putting, to be honest, that that I had fans and I have this following on instagram and people that I was in the Smithsonian. Like what? Like it's it was crazy to me because I was just doing my job, you know, um, but now the I have been kind of placed in that position due to fate, I guess I do feel a responsibility to spread that message of, You know, if a man has only occupied this position for eternity or history doesn't mean that you can't pave the way you know. Yes, it might be a little bit hard And yes, you are gonna face obstacles. But they're people who have come before you that I have done it there, people that will come after you that will do it. So just reach out to those resource is and I love in particular when I have women reach out that say, like, Hey, I'm I'm gonna be the first, you know, veterinary, student female. And I'm I'm afraid of some of the stuff that I may face. Do you have any advice like that's the coolest thing ever Because, yes, it's easy to equate, like I want to be a bull angel pilot to me. But to be able to equate like first female this and first female doctor first email vet, our first email, whatever. That to be able to equate those, um, kind of experiences, I think we can share that knowledge and, you know, make people not feel so alone because I can tell you I felt alone even though I had a really great male friends on the team. I mean, I ended up marrying one of my friends of actually Cook, so I mean we even though I had really great male friends. I felt very, very alone when I was on the team. So absolutely what I would be,

Grant:   20:56
Yeah. And And thank you for doing that and sharing those stories and those experiences. Um, I can only imagine how helpful that is to a lot of people. Um, but what I do now I kind of wanna jump into and transition a little bit. Is commissioning week. It's coming up. It's not here just yet, but it's coming up and there will be a blue in your performance. And I'm sure there are a lot of people out there that one, a little bit of insight into kind of the Blue Angels, you know, First thing is, can you just give us a little bit of like, a little glimpse of insight into what life is a blue angel? Pilots like when you're like, let's say you're going to commission a week in Annapolis. What's your life like, how often you fly? Then what do you get to come into town like, What's your life like when you're traveling on the road and doing these demonstrations and performances?

Katie:   21:41
Yeah, So despite like all the negativity that I've mentioned aboutthe interval about trav it. But it was like a really great fun experience. Um, and Annapolis is one of those awesome shows. And my parents actually live in server in a park, Maryland, like, right down the street. And they sponsor mids and all the stuff. So, um, Annapolis was my home show. And so that was just another layer of awesomeness added on top of it, you know, um and so Annapolis is a weird show because it's right in the middle of the week. Eso like a typical week Mondays air off Tuesday's we would practice in Pensacola. Wednesday's air generally a practice in Pensacola Thursdays. Um, we would transition or or go to the go to the show sight wherever it was. Obviously, if it was like California, you would leave on Wednesday. But a normal show you'd leave on Thursday, you'd get there, Um, the ah Jet guys would do circles. That's basically where they pick out their visual checkpoints on the ground to help them with their maneuvers. Um, Fat Albert, we would do a practice show. Thio just get kind of ah feeling for the show site. Um, and then Friday is a practice and then Saturday, Sunday or normal shows in the evenings, on either friday or Saturday, We have a community event. Um, Saturday mornings, we goto high schools and talk to kids or go to hospitals and, um, you know, meet kids, and then Monday evening is when we go back to Pensacola. So it was, you know, nonstop. And then Oh, by the way, you're required. Work out every day, and you have to find some time to eat. And they're, you know, just are you trying to stay skinny for that freakin really type E? I mean, yeah. So what is very busy? Um, And what? What was cool about the academy when I did the show in 2015? Um, I actually taped a special for the Today show on on campus, which was really cool of Peter Alexander. He was really nice guy. Um, but yeah, I think What's what's really cool about the show site? And and unfortunately, Fat Albert isn't performing this year because they're getting a new one. Um, so she won't be at Annapolis this year, But what's really cool about flying that show site is right outside the the show box is a ton of boats, and and they all have, like, really told Mass. And so when we come in for our flat past, we're like, 40 feet above the water. And so some of these master like, you know, 30 feet tall and and they'll get like, rocked by us, like going over them. They get really awesome footage, and they all liked posted on Twitter, which is great. Um, and then we get to go down like McGarvey's at night. You actually stay at, um, the Marriott where the posters is? Yep. So? So we get to stay there. So we're, like, right in the heart of things. And for those of us that were mids, it's like, Yeah, we're going todo drink and fly. But like, but it's still awesome. It's still awesome to be back in the, you know, old stomping grounds. If you

Grant:   24:49
it is speaking your old stomping grounds. Where were your spots when you were a mid Where were your favorite spots? Fed house. Okay, nice. Yeah.

Katie:   24:56
That house was definitely kind of the place. Posters was always really good. Um, O'Brien's wasn't too bad. Ah, let's see here I stayed away from Dil owes mostly e McGarvey's. We would go to sometimes, but I would say, like posters and Fed house were like, probably the go to one's.

Grant:   25:17
Yeah, that's good. Still, definitely. Still the still set on my time Now. Now, for a little bit? Not tremendously. Okay, Um so solid choices. I definitely I definitely like your style there. But you mentioned Fat Albert a couple times. If no one has any idea what you're talking about, Fat Albert, can you just explain kind of the role of Fat Albert within the Blue Angels? Um, and like, what kind of planet is and basically ah, what your job is as you're flying

Katie:   25:47
that? Yep. So So fat Albert is the C 1 30 that's attached to the Blue Angels. When I was flying, it was a C 1 30 t model, which is a older version. Um and then they're actually in the process of acquiring a C 1 30 j model, which is the type that's flown currently in the active duty fleet that will help them with enlisted aircrew who have qualifications from the active duty fleet, will help him get parts and logistics and all this other stuff. And so that's why they needed kind of to acquire new aircraft. Not to mention that the old one was pretty dangles and and being flown to kind of its flight envelope limit, you know, so but the predominant mission that we do is logistics. So if we're on the road and the jet team needs apart after our show, I'm on the in the evening, Saturday, Sunday, whatever. We will fly to wherever to pick up parts for them and bring them back. Um, and so that And we transfer transport like £40,000 of cargo and and 40 maintainers to every show site so that the jets have their men and equipment to work on them. If there's issues there, Um and what was, you know, really cool. At least through the time that I was on there, the 70 years that I was on there, they'd never canceled a show due to maintenance because of the support that they had. A dedicated was just six asset and those maintainers that we're on the road with them. Um and then our secondary mission, obviously, is to showcase the pride of professionalism of the Navy and Marine Corps team through aerial demonstration. It's not like I've memorized that answers

Grant:   27:25
to say it a couple times.

Katie:   27:26
Exactly so. But so we do a 10 minute show with the C 1 32 kind of showcase the capabilities of that aircraft. Um, which is pretty cool because we are tend to be a favorite for, like, kids 10 and under, because their attention span. Is it very long and we don't get there first. It's a world fat Albert, which is the nickname um, of it. And so we you know, we've been fat Albert since you know the early seventies or whatever, so that that's her name. And

Grant:   27:56
yeah, so no kidding. Literally shaking, hands kissing babies. You hanging out with all the seven year olds when you're out in town, right?

Katie:   28:02
I like the cool plane. And then, of course, it's like Mommy, it's the girl one you know. It's pretty cool. Hey,

Grant:   28:14
um great. And so he talked about the fact that basically the Annapolis one is your home show. But was, is that your most memorable show? Are there different shows that, like stick out to you as your favorite or really to this day. You're like, Wow, that was definitely the coolest show that we've done.

Katie:   28:30
Um, so Annapolis was probably my favorite just because of the other activities outside of flying and the show sites. Really cool. Um, some other really great ones were cherry point, because that's where I was stationed. So that was, like, kind of like a secondary home. Miramar is really cool for us Marines because they do a really neat mag taf demonstration. So it's being with the Navy squadron. It's awesome to kind of get that taste of Marine Corps a little bit. Hawaii is fun, obviously, because we're there for, like, a week. So we have, like, a couple of days till, like, sit on the beach, which we never get. So that one's really cool beach show in Pensacola school because you're that is your, you know, the blue Blue Angel home. So that one's really cool. Seattle is neat because the show sites, right? Next, the space needle and all that stuff. Um, so, yeah, I mean, there's there's definitely cool, cool ones out there, but Annapolis was, you know, my personal favorite.

Grant:   29:26
Yeah, I like it. Um all right, So now They're gonna have to get to a point where first of all, I follow you on Twitter. And I

Katie:   29:35
was I'm not gonna lie. I

Grant:   29:36
was scrolling through a bunch of tweets last night. You're actively hilarious. And you have some of the hottest takes, and I love it. Thank you. So, knowing that that you definitely are one with humor Do you have any, like, really funny stories from your time the Blue Angels? Like, is there anything specifically that you're like? This is a story that I tell whenever I'm talking about the Blue Angels, Just cause even to this day it makes me laugh.

Katie:   29:58
I mean, I I do have several, but not appropriate. I would say, like, Let's see here I I actually texted my son's godfather was the supply officer with me on the team. I was like, Greg, do you have any suggestions? And and we like we're crying, laughing. You're going over some of the stuff that we can't share, but one of the ones that I can share. So obviously I am active on Twitter. And so, um, I was talking at one show. I was like, God, I could go for a funnel cake. And so I went, I went, did the show. I went to crowd line, which is where we, you know, kiss babies and shake hands. Man, one of my Twitter followers walks up and is like, I got you a funnel cake on crowd by and everyone knows I'm in this, like blues, dude. Right. Well, the wind picks up, picks up this funnel cake in it, and it hits me right in the chest. So now I have, like, powdered sugar all over my chest, and I have a, like a interview that I have to dio right afterwards. And so I go to the public restroom, which is which is insane to do at an air show when you're blue Angel, because you'll never get anywhere when I sign on a dress with why all over my chest. So I'm in this for the rest room, soaking myself and in the sink, and then I turn on the hand dryer, and so I'm like, heads. I like that. I like people are walking in like, Oh, my God. What issue is this video? Yeah, So that one was I freaked a bunch of people out by, like, drying my chest if you in a public bathroom.

Grant:   31:36
I mean, like, that's pretty cool, though, but also kind of creepy. That one of your twitter I

Katie:   31:41
had so many weirdos online. One didn't got arrested in freakin in Canada for threatening to kill me and my family. Lee, it's crazy. Yeah. So I'm like some really nice followers that are just, you know, very supportive. And they love to follow my family. And, you know, um and then and then I have something you want to come? Yeah. Like like crazy people. So, yeah, you know, there are some tradeoffs. Unfortunately, not everyone's. So that's why I don't put my Children on line at all. Don't mess with that.

Grant:   32:15
Yeah. Yeah, that's that's fair. Quite quite. The range. They're nice people. We're gonna get you.

Katie:   32:21
Yeah, I've had, like people. It's just trash flowers make me a birthday cake because they know it's my birthday, like, really on people. And then I

Grant:   32:29
don't think flowers are also then worth, you know, catching a death threat from a random d'oh. All right, so now we have to get to probably the most important piece of this entire episode. because disclaimer for anyone who knows me personally, they know this. But probably academy insider doesn't is that I'm shamelessly a huge bachelor fan. A huge on. I love it. Um, so you were recently to say on the bachelor is way Gotta clarify you were on an episode of the bachelor, Uh, with pilot with pilot Pete. Ah, you're taking and taking some of the girls through some aviation training. So my first question for you is how the heck do you even get to do that? Had years to pull that off.

Katie:   33:17
Well, so I didn't like, hey, pick me. They actually reached out on instagram. I have, like, 37,000 followers or something. You know, I don't mean it like that, but I haven't thinks I have a decent following when it So when you type in like, female aviator, I, like, come up. And so I assume that's what would happen if they did like a basic Google search. Um And so then they split into my diems, If you will, they send me a message and that, you know, we just kind of, you know, got together and did it, Which is which was you know, a very interesting, very cool experience because, you know, I like I said, I did the Today Show this morning, CBS, Fox and friends Like I did those type of shows, but never like a a reality show or anything that I had a trailer, which was crazy. Um, you know, and recently actually filmed for Nickelodeon or Nick Jr. And so I got to do that too, right after the Bachelor. And so kind of getting exposed to L. A. This year is, but

Grant:   34:17
what do you do for a net for Nick Jr?

Katie:   34:20
Um, there's a show called Ryan's Mystery Playdate. Okay, he's like that kid who's the most hot hide paid person on YouTube. And he reviews toys Well, him and his family have a have a show where they like, give clues. And he asked the guests who has played a is gonna be on. And then they guessed that it was me and I got to, you know, we got to do good games and stuff. So it was pitiable. Well, that's nice. Yeah.

Grant:   34:43
Okay, well, now, the next question is you were rocking. Ah, Cem. Seriously, sweet aviators were those producers like Hey, you need to wear aviators because that's what aviators do. Or was that you just rocking aviators.

Katie:   34:56
So got issued those when I was on the balloon and, um, actually wear contacts. And at the time, I had run out of contacts and so that those have my prescription for me to be able to see, I had had to wear those, Um, I'm an old lady, but yeah, I would be able to see if that's what they were. So they did not prescribe me to wear anything. I just had to

Grant:   35:21
this tattoo. All right, that's fair. All right, now, Pete, we gotta talk

Katie:   35:23
about Let's talk about Pete.

Grant:   35:25
How do we feel about Pete?

Katie:   35:28
So I've been watching all season. I'm sure you're seeming tweet about it. Oh, absolutely. So in person, he's He's better looking than he is on TV.

Grant:   35:36
That's okay. Well, first of all, thank you for saying that, cause I hate to be this shallow, but I'm like you're the bachelor. Dude, you're supposed to be I I was winning, but that makes me happy to hear

Katie:   35:46
Yeah, yeah, now. And every frickin date that he goes to his like, super sweaty but whatever. So So he's much better looking in person who was really friendly. He wasn't aviation nerd. You know, when we were off camera, he kept asking me flying stuff, which was cool. Um, and at least early on in the season, when I met him, he was, like, very intent on this process. Working? Yeah. Maybe night. Maybe too naive. Kind of. Um, but you could tell that he was, like, legitimately hurt by Hannah, uh, from the previous season. And like, he probably needed to get over her. But since since meeting him in person and then watching him over this season like he's a nice dude that he just seems like extremely immature, not ready for marriage. Like, I think telling Kelly, by the way, was my favorite. When I never I won't. Yeah, the fact that Kelly called him out and was like, you reward bad behavior or whatever like that is spot on. Like the gas lighting the red flags from Victoria after a liar. Leah, whatever her name was like like Tammy frickin tell the TV people. Wouldn't they show you their true colors? Like I believe they're gonna ask you Exactly. They're gonna act like a crazy person on national television. Guess what they're gonna act like in the privacy of their own home. Really crazy program. You want to go with that? I just, you know me. Kelly was like a heartbreak when she went home like this Next episode, I guess, is, um, the women tell all they didn't even invite her to that, even though she was a what? Yeah, and, yeah, I know it's like drama and yeah, so I mean, I loved her, and I think she would make a great bachelorette. But I do have some reason. I've just get the feeling that maybe they didn't like her or she was, like, not enough drama for them. So they're just like, now, you know, she was just too too much or do well behaved. So

Grant:   38:02
yeah, I'm sure they got the one thing that I personally loved. But a lot of people hated was when she, like, flex on Iran. She's like, would you guys even do like, I'm a freaking attorney? And I was like, I was like, Isn't that right? Yeah. It's about time you see

Katie:   38:15
enough for yourself. He left you because when I met them at No, No kidding. Tammy was the one that I met. I was like So, Tammy, what do you do for a living? She's like, Well, I flip homes, I'm on instagram influencer I'm a model and she like illicitly 10 things. Is it like, bro? You're on here to, like, come for yourself up saying I'm on Instagram influencer like That's not a real job, Hannah and live with their parents and is a model what I have to say about bad. She recognized her talents good on her. She realized that she was really, really hot and you became a model, and she's making a living off of her talents. That's she recognized her limitations and good for her. And now and now she's tins. She's like the front runner for me because she's really the only one left that sane. Yeah, I feel like

Grant:   39:11
the Do you think Madison's not saying? I I loved your hot take on that, by the way on the last episode, because I feel the exact same way toe to toe, period on your tweet.

Katie:   39:21
Yes, so yes, Victoria F. Like I said, my tweet is the biggest red flag outside of communist China. Just abandon that Madison while I 100% 100% respect what she had to say. And I think I think when she said, Hey, sleeping with someone else six days before you get engaged is a red flag or something I can't do completely understood because you wouldn't do that in real life, however, signed up for this show knowing it was going to happen. He was knowing for his sexual activities on his previous season. So it's not like he's all of a sudden gonna become a monk. And then, you know, people in society this might be controversial, But people in society view intimacy physical, interesting, differently. You know, some people who are extremely religious review can view it one way, and other people can do it a little bit more liberally. And for her to kind of think that everyone in the world was gonna conform to her beliefs, I think was a little bit naive and an ultimatum that happened last season with Luke and Hannah, and everybody crucified him for it, you know, he kind of did the same thing, so I think would be a little bit of a double standard for us to be like, you know we support. That's why I'm kind of like Anna an Isley. Really, he's settling because she's the only one that's like, halfway normal and all

Grant:   40:46
you do. You think he's still in love with Hannah Brown? Do you think that's I think they're still

Katie:   40:50
in there? I hope so on. All I can think of is like he gets the end. And he was like, None of these chicks meet her standard, you know, and and to me, if that happens, like if you're comparing anyone to your previous relationship like you will do that for the rest of your life, you get you need to pull chocks because that's not that's not good for them. You're wasting their time. It's not good for you. It's gonna end in failure like Go find Hannah Brown. Yeah, as I know she's not dating anybody.

Grant:   41:20
Uh, as much as I wish we could talk way before we before we switch over to you. Our final piece, which is the lightning round of questions. Do you have anything else you'd like to leave the academy inside our audience about women in aviation or aviation. And, general, anything about the Blue Angels? Now is your time if you have

Katie:   41:43
anything. Um so I would just like to say, you know, for those of you that are interested in aviation, um or, you know, are struggling because you are, you know, one of the only females, and you're whatever it is, your class or whatever. I am readily available online. Whether that's via Twitter, my handles gear up, flaps up or via Instagram, Same handle. Gear up, flaps up. I'll still have a website, Katie and cook dot com where people can reach out if they're thinking about. They need somebody toe, do my motivational talks or whatever. You can reach out to me there. And I am usually very good about answering de EMS, not from crazy people, that normal people. Um And, you know, I'm glad to do that for people who are looking for advice or just one event or whatever. They're, um I think that's great. And and, you know, for those of you that are going through hard times, um, I always say the same phrase for people, and that's calm. Seas don't make a skilled sailor and What I mean by that is it's not the smooth times in your life. It's not the easy times that that shape you as a person. It's those hard times that those rough seas, it's those failures that you're facing that shape you as a person and for me, shape me as a Marine as a mom is a spouse, and so keep going. Keep pushing. Yes, people are gonna face obstacles. Whether it's because you're female, you're a person of color. You are LGBT Q. Whatever it is, people face obstacles every day and their people out there that can support you and help you t hrough it.

Grant:   43:14
Hey, motivate me, warrior. All right, Thank you for that. That's fantastic. Let's jump into this final lightning round of questions that we ask all former midshipman, first of which is what is your favorite spot on the yard? Where's your favorite place? On the campus memorial hall? Oh, it's a good answer. Yeah, like that. Um, all right. Moving down just downstairs from Memorial Hall. What's your favorite meal in King Hall? Buffalo chicken sandwich. Ooh, Nice, huh? It's just such a It really was like the one good Can't really screwed up. How good your memory were. They on Thursdays for you? Thursday lunches. Do you remember Luncheon? Who? I think I think our years they switched to Thursdays. But I might be

Katie:   44:05
I don't care if my memory everywhere you go, I

Grant:   44:10
mean, we could both be correct. Yeah. Um, all right. Not to get a little bit a little bit more sentimental, Which is who or what either personal experience has the biggest influence on your leadership style today that you can trace back to your time at the Naval Academy.

Katie:   44:28
So I'm I'm a little bit weird about this. My dad was class of 81 so I got exposed to the academy leadership style or lessons that he learned at a very, very young age. And so I would say the academy influenced me. Maybe not when I was there, as much as when my dad was there because my dad was is like, my number one role model when it comes to being a Marine officer, Um, and I think his time at the academy was ingrained in him and then ingrained in me subsequently as his child. Obviously my time at the Academy was. I learned my own lessons, but the most impactful came from him, which, you know by default came from the academy. But 20 years prior.

Grant:   45:14
Absolutely. Way cool. That's an interesting answer. I, uh that is a unique 1st 1st heard answer here. So wait there. There we go.

Katie:   45:23
Uh, sandwich Ever come up before?

Grant:   45:26
Unfortunately, Buffalo Chicken sandwich was not a first time answer here. Show.

Katie:   45:31
It's just so good. So good.

Grant:   45:33
It is. Just so it just speaks volumes to the fact that it actually is really delicious.

Katie:   45:38
Yeah. And they they had restored generations of midshipmen have at it.

Grant:   45:44
It is the link in the chain. It is like a train. The buffalo sandwiches. Um, all right, well, on the other show, I have a lot of people always asking me, ah, recommendations for books that I have. So I kind of just want to pass it off to you. Which is what? Your favorite book. What? What? What's your favorite book and what would you recommend to someone? Um, just

Katie:   46:04
so I would recommend Lean in by Sheryl Sandberg. I really, really like that book, and I think it's appropriate for both male and female leaders. It's It kind of highlights the struggles that women go through and the advocacy and the steps that men can take as mentors and as allies of women, both in the military and in the professional setting, too. Facilitate, You know, that equality across the board. So I really liked that book.

Grant:   46:33
I need to read that, Uh, thank you for that recommendation. I'm definitely check that out. All right, we have two questions left, the first of which is what is your best memory from your time as a midshipman?

Katie:   46:46
Um, I would say, like, I probably have a really a lot of really great memories that I can't remember. E turned 21 my first year, but I would say probably the best memory was I was in 13th company. So we ran the football from Annapolis to Philadelphia for the Army navigating. And my plea beer was a really great awesome experience. That is. I remember, like running out on the field with the ball, you know, for the game to start. We didn't have to do march on, which was awesome. Super awesome. Yeah, Frank way could run the ball on. So that so that was really cool and, you know, just hanging out in different environment. You know, the way we're all doing something hard but fun together, you know? And you've got to bond a little bit with your upperclassmen, which was, you know, a no, no, um, kind of there. So So I really loved that. That's a great a great experience that I'll always remember. Nice,

Grant:   47:48
shameless self plug here for me if you don't know what she's talking about. I actually did a podcast episode with Rebecca Richmond, who is the 13th company alumni who talks all about the ball run, and we explain all the different details and things behind the scene that you wouldn't normally see or hear about. So if you want to learn more about that, check that out, all right. But back to the questions in the final question is so a lot of our audience is high school students or people that are just interested in the academy. So what advice would you have for someone in terms of? If they're thinking about going to the academy, what would you tell them about what they need to think about when determining whether or not the Naval Academy is the right choice for them.

Katie:   48:31
So, um, I wish I had known this back when I was a midshipman. Um, and I think I wish everyone would know it before they went. So when you become a marine or naval officer, your number one priority needs to be those enlisted men and women, period. It's not the warfare device on your chest that you're trying to earn. It's not the calls and the aircraft you're trying to get. It's not the watch standard. Whatever the heck this woes do over there, it's not. It's not. It's not all the all the qualifications and your personal advancement. It's not the awards it's not, You know, the recognition that you get. It's taking care of those enlisted mineral and women. So before you go, you need to know that you're signing on, at least for five years of your life of pudding. Other people that you have never met yet ahead of yourself, ahead of your future family ahead of your personal goals, because they, as much as your parents are probably nervous about you going to the academy. There are hundreds of enlisted parents that are trusting you to take care of their kids, you know? And so you, as a 17 18 year old kid getting ready to go to the academy, need to realize that you must put them first. That is the goal. And, you know, the other thing is, you might go to the academy. Or you might be thinking, I want to be the next frickin maverick. I'm gonna go be a jet pilot. That's why I want to go the academy or I want to be an astronaut and they have the most astronauts or whatever the heck you're. I want to be a Marine pilot. I want to be, you know, a Cobra pilot. Whatever it is, you can go in with those goals, and it's great to have those golds. But life and the Marine Corps and the Navy have a choice, right? They have a say in that, so you might not become a pilot, or you might get air sick and you have to go marine ground or you have to go swot or whatever. And if being a pilot is the reason you went and joined the military, then you are gonna have a very uncomfortable next five years. So your motivation for going needs to be those enlisted men women you that needs to be your first regular. Because no matter what warfare community you go in, if they're your first priority, great. You're gonna have a cool job to do, no matter what it is. But they have to be absolutely have to be your first priority. Before you go 100%

Grant:   50:50
as the young kids say nowadays, will you please say it louder for the people in the back? That is I that was gonna be there. You gotta be there for the people. You Thank you. Thank you. You just, like, validated. Ah, Ton of you think.

Katie:   51:10
Unfortunately, that's that stuff that you you might not learn till very much later. Near where I would actually say that's woes are likely the best of this because they get the most exposure them in ground. Marines get the most exposure to leading right away, Um, right away and And, you know, the spec ops communities air weird because they're more like Pearson leaders. But, you know, the aviators, um, the the sub guys, sometimes our pipelines there so long that it's your very me focused. And the academy, unfortunately, instill some of that me focus. I want to get the best grades. I want to be on soups list. I want to do this. I want to be the best that intramurals or whatever that it is. It's very me. Focus. Um, And if you can learn early on apologize, my dogs go nuts. If you can learn early on early on that your people are your highest priority and you could you need the leverage that knowledge of those senior enlisted. When you get there, you will be so much more successful and your people will value your leadership in your guidance.

Grant:   52:18
Thank you. All right, Well, Katie, seriously, Thank you so much for taking the time to join us today. Thanks for all your stories. Thanks for sharing your experiences and some of the things that you went through. And then thank you for sharing your insight and wisdom on all that. Um, I couldn't agree more, so I mean this from the most sincere place. My heart. Thank you so much for your time. We really, really appreciate

Katie:   52:40
it. Sure thing. It was awesome. To be here was awesome. to reminisce about the academy and the blues and the bachelor If you will follow me on Twitter if you want to see my hot takes over the next two weeks over the bachelor. Yeah, All

Grant:   52:56
right. Absolutely well again. Thank you Into the academy insider audience. I hope you guys have a great day. Thanks. Simplified. If you're not a bachelor fan, I'm so sorry for subjecting you to that conversation for 10 minutes. But if you are a badger, the fan, you're so welcome because I knew that was super fun to listen to you because I really enjoyed it. But honestly, how awesome is Katie? What an awesome interview that was. And thank you guys so much. I hope you learned a little bit about the Blue Angels and gotta learn a little bit of insight into her perspective in life within Marine Corps aviation again, as always, Please leave me a review on Apple podcasts and be sure to subscribe. If you're looking for anymore information into the life of a mid shipment at the Naval Academy or the Naval Academy experience in journey, make sure to check out my Facebook page academy insider or go to my website, www dot academy insider dot com. And as always, thank you so much for letting me be your guide to the United States Naval Academy.