BEHIND THE VOICE

Bitchin’ Betty, the voice of F-18 fighter jets, just retired from Boeing

Listen to what the woman says.
Listen to what the woman says.
Image: Screenshot
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For more than 20 years, Boeing employee Leslie Shook, 60, has been known by another nickname: Bitchin’ Betty.

The voice of Bitchin’ Betty, heard in the cockpit command system in every F-18 Super Hornet, is instantly recognizable by pilots and technicians who have flown or trained on the fighter jets. When she yells “Roll right! Roll right!” or “Pull up! Pull up!” they know to listen because not doing so could mean life or death.

On March 7, Boeing announced Shook’s retirement, recognizing her contributions with the following video.

Shook isn’t the original Bitchin’ Betty. She took the role in 1995 when Boeing developed the F-18. The company had intended to use the Bitchin’ Betty voice from the F-15, which was recorded by a woman named Kim Crow, but realized it needed to additional calls for the F-18.

Shook, a media producer who filled in as a sound engineer, has a voice that’s stern and commanding, perfect for the role. According to Popular Mechanics, studies have suggested that women’s voices are more authoritative and attention-grabbing.

“We trust that she’s telling us what we need to do, and we do as she says,” Dana Perkins, weapons system operator at Boeing flight operations, said in the video. “If she said, ‘Stand up straight,’ everyone would stand up straight.”

For her going-away celebration, Boeing employees and Navy pilots got a chance to meet Bitchin’ Betty in St. Louis. But Shook’s voice remains embedded in the F-18. “I suspect I’ll be in this airplane as long as this airplane’s flying,” she said.