And we know that you love it too, which is why we need your help on our latest strange adventure in journalism.
Earlier this year, we ran a heart-warming story about an F-15 pilot who flies with a plush ducky in the cockpit to remind him of his daughter back home.
“I didn’t want my daughter to think I lived inside the phone,” said Munoz, formerly of the England-based 494th Fighter Squadron and now chief of plans for the 335th Fighter Squadron. “I took Scoff [the duck] so she could connect me with something she had possession of in reality. It was a crucial bonding experience for us.”
The duck was named after the AA-10D heat-seeking missile, also known as a ‘duck.’ The phrase ‘don’t scoff the duck’ is often dropped before every training sortie, as Munoz explained. Scoff soon becomes an unofficial mascot for the pilot’s fighter wing, with his orange-billed face shared across social media and on a morale patch.
“Scoff coming into the limelight really connected the community to the pilots and their work,” said Mike Whitbread, a local aviation enthusiast, in an Air Force press release. ”It was something to personalize the pilot, rather than just being a guy in an F-15.”
Though Munoz is now back in the U.S. with the 335th Fighter Squadron, he said he plans to save a seat for Scoff in the cockpit for the rest of his flying career, until he can finally be returned to the original owner.
“I think it will be a special memento for her when she grows up,” said Munoz. “She will have something to remind her that she was always with me in some kind of way, no matter where I was in the world.”
Since the story came out, we’ve heard from readers that there are more pilots, crew members, or other military aviators out there who bring stuffed animals or other lucky charms and keepsakes up in the air with them. We would love to hear more and tell their stories.
Are you a military pilot, aviator or crew member who flies with a stuffed animal or other kind of special object? Are you a veteran who used to do so? We want to hear from you! Email our intrepid Air Force reporter David Roza at firstname.lastname@example.org
Email away, and thank you for your assistance citizen!