The Tailhook Association

tailhook '91
Origin of the Symposium
A private organization, The Tailhook Association is comprised of active duty, Reserve and retired Navy and Marine Corps aviators, defense contractors, and others. (The name 'tailhook' comes from the device that halts aricraft when they land on aircraft carriers.)
The first symposium took place in Tijuana, Mexico in 1956 as a reunion of naval aviators. In 1963 the conference moved to Las Vegas and added a number of professional development activities to its agenda. Official Navy support for the symposium grew after this point, and the planning for official functions was conducted by the office of the Assistant Chief of Naval Operations. The Navy provided free office space for the Association in Miramar, California, and used its passenger aircraft fleet to transport attendees to Las Vegas.

Social Aspects and Sponsorship
In the early years the conventions centered around social gatherings and parties held in numerous hospitality suites funded by Defense contractors. In the late 1970s, new Dept. of Defense rules restricted this practice and suite sponsorship fell to the individual naval squadrons and commands, who collected funds from members.
As the number of naval hospitality suites increased, so too did the competition among them to create the popular suite. For nearly a decade attendees have witnessed drunkenness, strippers, public nudity and consensual public sex acts that have been attributed to competition among the squadrons.

Back to Index

pilots, jets, & the enterprise | tailhook '91 | old navy/new navy | what ails the navy? | readings | reactions | tapes & transcripts | admiral boorda's in basket | chronology of women in the navy | explore frontline | pbs online | wgbh

pbs online