This time, it was an accident.
At least, that’s what Air Force officials said in an official statement Thursday after yet another drawing resembling male genitalia appeared in the sky, this time over Luke Air Force Base in Arizona.
During a training exercise on Tuesday, F-35 fighter jet pilots inadvertently created a condensed air trail in the shape of a penis — images of which caused a stir on social media.
But unlike previous incidents involving the use of military aircraft to create phallic images, base officials insist that this suggestive depiction was an accident and the result of normal flight maneuvers as the fifth-generation jets engaged in a simulated dogfight.
“We’ve seen the photos that have been circulating online from Tuesday afternoon. 56th Fighter Wing senior leadership reviewed the training tapes from the flight and confirmed that F-35s conducting standard fighter training maneuvers … resulted in the creation of the contrails,” a spokesperson from Luke AFB told CNN.
“There was no nefarious or inappropriate behavior during the training flight,” the spokesperson added.
Fox 10 in Phoenix was first to report the images.
The F-35 is touted as the future of military aviation, a lethal and versatile aircraft that combines stealth capabilities, supersonic speed, extreme agility and state-of-the-art sensor fusion technology, according to Lockheed Martin.
The aircraft — whose stealth capabilities make it harder for enemy radars to detect — has been a favorite of President Donald Trump, who has lauded the F-35 several times as “invisible.”
While Tuesday’s drawing may have been an accident, it marks the first time an F-35 has been associated with this type of incident, intentional or otherwise.
Similar aeronautical drawings have become somewhat of a trend in recent years among military aviators.
In 2017, a Navy aircrew was punished for purposefully leaving an “obscene image” in the sky over Okanogan County, Washington.
“US Navy air crew, flying an F/A-18 Growler (Electronic Attack Aircraft) assigned to Electronic Attack Squadron 130 based at Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, Wash., flew an air pattern … that left a condensed air trail resembling an obscene image to observers on the ground,” Navy spokesperson Lt. Cmdr. Leslie Hubbell said at the time.
Navy “Air Boss” Vice Adm. Mike Shoemaker issued a sharp rebuke of the crew’s actions and emphasized the service’s commitment to “foster an environment of dignity and respect.”
“Sophomoric and immature antics of a sexual nature have no place in Naval aviation today,” Shoemaker said in a written statement.