NEWS | July 7, 2021

Family in Flight: Father and Daughter Flight Surgeons Fly Side-by-Side

By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Chelsea Milburn, Commander, Naval Air Force Reserve

NEW ORLEANS — Many Americans used the recent Father’s Day weekend to make new memories or reminisce about camping trips, vacations, father-daughter dances or other shared activities. These cherished memories mark important milestones in relationships, but few are as unforgettable as those spent going over the speed of sound.

Cmdr. Layne Crowe and his daughter, Lt. Sierra Crowe, were able to fly side-by-side this past April in New Orleans with Fighter Attack Squadron (VFA) 204, a Navy Reserve adversary squadron operating the F/A-18 Hornet, making for one of the most memorable father-daughter experiences the two have shared.

Layne Crowe is attached to Commander, Tactical Support Wing, which has five Navy Reserve Tactical and adversary squadrons: VFA-204, Fighter Squadron Composite (VFC) 12, VFC-111, VFC-13, and Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) 209.

VFA-204, known as the “River Rattlers,” are located in New Orleans and function as the premier Navy F/A-18 Hornet adversary squadron. VFA-204 has also assumed training requirements for all new and refresher F/A-18 A-D pilots qualifying, or requalifying, in the legacy Hornet aircraft. 

Layne Crowe was in New Orleans obtaining annual flight time with VFA-204 and assisting the squadron with their medical readiness. Sierra Crowe was able to join the squadron for the flight, gaining valuable experience in the air as she prepares for her new role as a Navy flight surgeon.

On a crystal-clear April morning, Layne Crowe and Sierra Crowe flew with the wing commander and the squadron commanding officer, taking flight in two pristine F/A-18Ds on an air-to-air training mission — Sierra Crowe’s first flight in an F/A-18.

“This is truly a special moment in my career,” said Layne Crowe. “It was an unbelievable experience to share with Sierra.”

“The best part was just seeing how excited my dad was and how proud he is of me,” said Sierra Crowe. “The whole experience was so much fun. It was just the coolest thing ever going up with an adversary squadron — my aircraft totally beat my dad’s by the way. It was the best day we’ve ever had together, and I’m sure it’s one neither of us will ever forget.”

While both Crowes excitedly expressed their appreciation for being able to share this experience, Sierra Crowe said she’s also grateful for her father’s role in inspiring the direction of her career and aspirations.

“I admire a lot of things about my dad,” said Sierra Crowe. “He’s just such an interesting and caring person and because of him, I have this thirst for adventure and desire to make a difference that has really shaped who I am.”

Capt. Wayne Oetinger, Tactical Support Wing commander, piloted one of the F/A-18s for the flight and said these are the kind of flights that capture how special it is to be part of naval aviation.

“Our work in naval aviation is a family business,” said Oetinger. “In this case, it was literally family in the same flight, with one of the best flight surgeons I’ve ever served with getting the opportunity to fly alongside his daughter, Sierra, in a meaningful passing-of-the-torch type event. It was a true privilege to be part of this flight.”

Layne Crowe first entered the Navy Reserve in June of 1991 as a Navy flight surgeon after finishing his medical degree.  He went on to serve with multiple deployable units including VFA-201 for their deployment in 2003 on the USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71) in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, and was recalled to active duty twice in support of VAQ-209 during multiple deployments. He also owns his own general medicine practice in Anchorage, Alaska.

His impressive career is just one of many examples of how the Navy Reserve can retain the invaluable experience of prior active duty service members, allowing them the opportunity to continue to serve the military alongside their civilian careers.

Sierra Crowe was commissioned in April 2015 and went on to finish her medical degree at the University of Colorado School Of Medicine in 2019. She served at the Balboa Naval Hospital transitional internship and recently graduated from the Naval Aerospace Medicine Institute in April 2021. She will be reporting to Carrier Air Wing 11, in Lemoore, Calif., where she will be following her father’s footsteps as a flight surgeon.
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