PENTAGON – Troubling reports just recently released by the Pentagon reveal that as of New Year's Eve, only 41 percent of Marine Corps aviators were able to get their aircraft up.
"Yeah, the timing was really unfortunate, not being able to get it up for New Year's or uh, since November really. I just have a lot going on right now," said an embarrassed deputy commandant of Marine Corps aviation who wished to remain anonymous.
With the stress of trying to keep up with the massively-extended election drama and the inevitable engorgement and subsequent downtime resulting from Thanksgiving and Christmas, aviators still aren't ready to go again.
"We had a house full of people for the holidays, and all I could think about before takeoff was my grandma and how she was guzzling the gravy at dinner ... and then, well, I was just too distracted to fly," said a harrier pilot known as "Money Shot."
Maintenance crews have been working around the clock, polishing the rod, adjusting the heat-seeking missile, cranking the shaft, conducting manual override, clearing the snorkel, debugging the hard drive, priming the pump and frankly just giving it a tug, but none of these techniques have enabled the aviators to achieve altitude.
"I used to be able to fly all night and go deep into enemy territory over and over without a break, but money troubles have really got me down," said Capt. Richard "Snake Charmer" Smythe.
Aircraft are also beginning to blame themselves, with some wondering what's wrong. A pair of CH-53E Super Stallions was talking in the hangar after work Thursday, questioning whether the pilots still found them attractive.
"I know I'm a little older now, but I used to be able to make a pilot salute the flag as soon as he saw me," the helicopter said.
Currently, plans are in the works to take the entire Marine Corps aviation community on a weekend getaway for a few games of beach volleyball and to bring back that loving feeling.