So my husband Michael just completed flight school for the Navy — this is a huge accomplishment and I’m obviously, so proud of him!! He’s been in flight school for the past two and a half years and has put so much work into earning those wings of gold.
For a while it seemed like flight school would never end and we would never be getting out of Mississippi…but now that it’s all said and done it feels kind of surreal.
Michael’s first winging
Michael is very lucky in that he had TWO wingings — a winging ceremony is when aviator wings are pinned on and a student naval aviator officially becomes a naval aviator. Michael finished flight school just as the annual Tailhook convention was rolling around…so we got to fly out to Reno, Nevada and he got winged in front of a huge auditorium.
And now for a quick funny story on that…I wanted one of the *big wig* people to put the wings on Michael at Tailhook, since it was such a cool opportunity. Right before it was set to begin, the people orchestrating the event were like no way, his wife is going to put on his wings! So I got up there and put his wings on in a dress that was way too short for climbing up onto a stage. I had major outfit regret!! But, alas, it wasn’t the end of the world.
I’ll always be so grateful Michael got to have a winging at Tailhook — I know a lot of you are spouses of student aviators…if your spouse gets the chance to get winged at Tailhook, TAKE IT.
^^^ Wings of gold for me 😉 it’s customary for significant others to receive a pair of gold wings (privately) when their aviator gets winged
Michael’s second winging
This past weekend Michael had his formal winging ceremony here in Mississippi. We had family and friends come in from out of town and attend the winging ceremony and accompanying parties.
On Saturday we had a get-together at our (really) small home. When I was planning this party I tried to find other examples of winging party decorations and only found a few other examples online. So if there are any other spouses planning a winging party — this is what I did!!
^^LOL these colors were supposed to be navy and gold, not black and orange!
I designed the big winging banner on Canva, which is super easy to use. I designed it from scratch and sourced the wings by finding a png image online. If you’d like to use my exact design just email me and I can send over the template (hello @ kathrynhadel.com). After I made the design, I imported it to Vistaprint and that’s who printed it. Keep an eye out for coupons they usually have them every so often.
Before Michael winged he had to carrier qual (CQ) in the T-45 on the boat — meaning, he had to land a trainer jet on an aircraft carrier for the very first time. This is a big effing deal. It’s customary to create a “hooker” poster for your SO when they come home from their first CQ. I also made the hooker post on Canva. I don’t have this poster publicly posted but if you’d like to see it, email me.
Shadow’s bandana design was also created on Canva, and then I had Zazzle print it! If you’d like the design…email me haha.
The party had a patriotic theme (of course!). I bought red, white, and blue mason jars, cutlery, paper plates, and napkins.
For food we had meatballs, an American flag fruit tray, artichoke dip, chips, sautee (Indonesian shish kabobs), other Indonesian food that Michael’s mom made, little tartlets that my mom made, and a congratulatory cookie cake.
Tips for your winging weekend
The winging weekend was very busy. Between greeting out of town family and friends, orchestrating travel arrangements to get everyone on base, the family day, winging ceremony, class sponsored party, and then your own personal party, it gets crazy.
The schedule of a winging weekend is usually this:
Friday AM: meet and greet with the CO, family tour of the squadron, check out the jets
Friday afternoon: winging ceremony
Friday night: class sponsored party (the squadron organizes this, but everyone can come)
Saturday: personal party and enjoy time with family
My biggest piece of advice is to be organized and make sure all guests know all critical information ahead of time (addresses for dinner, what to wear to each event, time to be places, where to park, etc). Have everyone’s phone and email readily available.
Plan for base access — both through the front gate and then to the flight line if there are events going on there.
My BIGGEST piece of advice is to just slow down, and enjoy the moment. It’s a big day for your SO and your family. A day that’s been years in the making — soak up every minute!!
If you are a spouse of a naval aviator (student or otherwise), please reach out! You can always find me on INSTAGRAM (shoot me a DM) or feel free to always send me an email.
I’m linking some of my FAV patriotic + naval aviation themed party decor in the shop-the-post section below.
P.S. Feel free to save this image below to your Pinterest!