“I made it to the fleet! Qual’ed at the July boat in the RAG and then joined VF-213, the world famous Fighting Black-lions,” Kara wrote in her diary. It didn’t come easily, as detailed in this excerpt from Call Sign Revlon: The Life and Death of Navy Fighter Pilot Kara Hultgreenby Sally Spears, her mother, to be published by the Naval Institute Press this month. Hultgreen became a lightning rod for controversy as she pursued her dream, but anyone who has ever flown a tailhook aircraft can identify with her thrill as qualifying.
Kara had some difficulty during practice at the field. It took her a while to figure out that her experience in the EA-6 did her more harm than good. Her habits, ingrained by three years of flying the EA-6 with its quick-response engines, were a handicap. The Tomcat's fan engines took longer to respond, and the throttle movements were magnified when she didn't stay right on top of the deviations from glide slope. She was rough with the power while she was trying to retrain her motor skills. (Her mother watched her bounce, and Kara drove her to the airport when she left. It was the last time they ever saw each other.)