Turns out pegasi aren’t the only ponies that fly, thanks to a
squadron of pilots-in-training in the U.S. Air Force who are now wearing
My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic-themed patches on their flight suits.
That’s right. Class 14-05 at Vance Air Force Base in Oklahoma is
making the skies a little friendlier with the rallying cry that “flying
is magic,” thanks to their brony-approved pink and purple “My Little
Pilot” class patches, which–true to the spirit of the friendship-themed
Hub TV show–is meant to create a bond amongst the pilot class.
“The purpose of a class patch is to develop camaraderie, morale, and
unity within a pilot training class,” First Lt. Tom Barger, a public
affairs officer for Vance, told WIRED in an email. “It is a token of esprit de corps.”
Each class pays for and designs its patches themselves and usually
considers a few options before choosing a final design. Some are a riff
on a class’ unique experience or particular class number. The “lucky”
Class 13-13, for example, has a patch with a four-leaf clover and a
rabbit adorned with a human foot. But Barger said the designs also
feature pop culture references “such as Angry Birds when that
was a big hit … and even a Chuck Norris patch. (Timeless?)” (Check out
some of the other class patches above.) After the class selects a patch,
it’s sent up for approval from the base’s brass.
So how, exactly, did this particular class of Air Force pilots choose a My Little Pony-style class patch?
Even though the animated world of Equestria has made in-roads in the armed forces (there’s a Facebook group for Military Bronies and there’s a particularly endearing video on YouTube
of enlisted bronies watching the episode where Rainbow Dash goes off to
the Air Force-eque Wonderbolt Academy) it still seems like a small
miracle that a whole class of pilots would adopt pony colors for their
Turns out it was something of a fluke. While the 24 members of Class
14-05 were going over their options, the class member presenting the
patches threw in the “My Little Pilot” design as a gag. The class didn’t
really want that particular patch for their flight suits, but somehow
(perhaps by magic) it was the patch that actually made it through the
approval chain. Oops.
“They thought it was so off the wall that it was hilarious,” Barger
said. “They have embraced the irony and humor of the patch and in so
doing have fostered closer ties with each other.”
Class 14-05′s patch has been getting a lot of attention ever since the My Little Pony fansite Equestria Daily posted the patch
last month (sample comment: “Glad to know the USAF is getting in on the
Brony fandom”). Since then, the story has been picked up by the Medium
site War is Boring and MTV Geek,
where the idea of a “brony squadron”—whether they’d ever self-identify
that way or not—is getting a lot of traction. Not that the Vance pilot
class has time to notice.
“Honestly, the patch is the last thing on the student pilots’ minds,”
Barger said. “They are focused on the rigors of their fast-paced and
world-class pilot training … Our allied partners send their student
pilots here to train because the United States Air Force is known for
its air superiority around the globe, and now perhaps, in the land of
Equestria. Perhaps the Wonderbolts will start sporting a U.S. Air Force
patch of their own.”
And if they do: Your move, Top Gun.