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Flight School Alum: Mazie Hirono Covered Up Sexist Harassment Case At Aviation Training Program She Created

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A female aviation school alum named Deborah Reid said that Hawaii senator Mazie Hirono covered up sexist harassment at a flight school program that Hirono created in 1998 as lieutenant governor.

Reid said that all female members of the class dropped out after they were “emotionally and verbally abused” by a male flight instructor, who went on to a successful career in the industry.

Reid said that she personally brought information about the harassment to Hirono, and Hirono heard her concerns. But male students in the class delivered a petition to Hirono defending their instructor and the workplace environment, and Ms. Reid’s case did not go forward.

Here is Deborah Reid’s statement to Big League Politics:

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“I was an aviation student in a program that Senator Mazie Hirono created in 1998 (then Lt. Governor) with Honolulu Community College (University of Hawaii) and University of North Dakota Flight Training program. There were 20 students and 2 of us were females. As time went on, more women signed up, but none were getting passed by the chief flight instructor. I contacted these women after they dropped out from the program and they told me that they were being emotionally and verbally abused by the chief flight instructor. He would bully them until they were in tears and quit. One other female told me he kept doing her check ride over again several times and never passed her. As for how he treated me, he would grab the controls out of my hands and demean, yell, and berate me while flying in the cockpit. He also didn’t pass me on my check rides. I complained to the college and reported the chief flight instructor and how he was treating females in the aviation program. I also contacted Lt. Governor Mazie Hirono and told her what was going on and how the male chief flight instructor was treating the females in her program. After I did this, my male flight instructor refused to fly with me, and the male students signed a petition that they gave Lt. Gov. Mazie Hirono and told her everything was great at the program. I suspect they did this because they were protecting their own careers as there were no other flight training programs at the colleges in Hawaii.

I was suspended from the aviation program after complaining to the college which was the summer of 2000…The chief flight instructor remained at the flight training program for a while, but was eventually replaced by a female chief flight instructor and they also brought over female flight instructors into the program after I was kicked out. Mazie Hirono was Lt. Governor at the time for Hawaii and this was her program that she created and she was fully aware of how the females were being treated in this program but did nothing to protect us against the male chief flight instructor.

I can’t stand Senator Hirono complaining about Judge Kavanaugh when she didn’t step up and make things right for the women in the aviation program she created in 1998. All the women dropped out because they were being harassed by the male chief flight instructor who obviously didn’t think women should fly and be pilots and he bullied the females until they were in tears and quit the program. The male students were concerned about themselves and wanted the program to continue so they could get their pilots license with no regards to how women were being treated including myself. Where was Lt. Gov. Mazie Hirono in all this? I did continue to fly at another flight school, and got my pilot’s license, obviously I wasn’t that dangerous to fly. It’s disgraceful what they put females through in this flight training program and Senator Mazie Hirono making all this noise about men not stepping up, well, she never stepped up for the females in her aviation program at Honolulu Community College (University of Hawaii) a program she spearheaded in 1998. 

Someone should question Senator Mazie Hirono and ask her why she didn’t step up for the women in her aviation program.”

Here is a record of Hirono as lieutenant governor receiving a special VIP tour of the new aviation program on the day it launched, according to University of Hawaii system newsletter archives:

“Realizing the program’s economic development benefits, Governor Ben Cayetano and Lieutenant Governor Mazie Hirono were instrumental in achieving legislative approval,” reported the University of Hawaii Community Colleges bulletin in September 1998:

We will update this report upon receiving response from Senator Hirono’s office.

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