Maj. Katie Higgins Cook, the first female Blue Angels pilot and current Marine Corps reservist, lends her awesome cred to ABC's "The Bachelor" with a special guest appearance on the premiere episode of season 24.
She's joined by fellow Marine Corps pilot Alisa Johnson as they take the aspiring contestants on a Group Date with Bachelor Peter Weber, a Delta Airlines pilot who wants to make sure any potential partners understand that his heart is in the clouds.
The date involves a trip on the gyroscope ride, with G-forces that turn a woman's stomach even more than the agony of anticipation during a rose ceremony.
Katie is married to fellow Blue Angels pilot Dusty Cook, and the couple lives in Texas with their two children. Still, she's been a fan of "The Bachelor" for years. "I've watched it basically since I was in high school," she said. "Not religiously. It depends on the season and if I'm deployed."
She says the drama keeps her coming back. "Obviously, I'm not your typical super-girly woman and I've been a Marine since 2008. The tears and catfights and the stuff like that aren't really present in my personal life. So it's a glimpse into this different world."
Dusty and Katie have never contemplated what their relationship might be like if they'd first met on "The Bachelor."
"My husband and I met before we were on the Blue Angels, during our previous command [with] VMGR 252, but we actually like got to know each as Blue Angels. But to be honest, we fought like cats and dogs on the Blues. We just have a different type of leadership style -- which isn't bad, it's just different. It wasn't until after he left the team that we started dating. I told him that we could never work in the same command ever again because we just have different professional approaches. We're better off as husband and wife than co-workers."
Solid marriage advice there. Considering how most "Bachelor" and "Bachelorette" romances end, maybe ABC should've kept Katie on as a relationship coach for the entire season.
Still, she thinks she helped some of the dozen contestants who came along for the group date, even though none of them could have expected flying lessons when they signed up for the show.
"There were some who were way more on board than others," she observed. "But what was cool about the episode is that there are some physical aspects to the date and there were some problem-solving aspects to it. The women who were very cerebral and intelligent were able to shine in that aspect. And those who were very athletically inclined were able to show their talents. It was a well-rounded curriculum that we put them through to help them showcase their best assets."
At the end of the day, Cook believes that she and Johnson were able represent for women in the military on a world-famous television program. "It was definitely a unique experience dealing with Hollywood. But it was really cool, and I'm glad that I did it and glad that I could represent female aviators on a national platform."
"The Bachelor" airs Monday nights on ABC at 8 p.m. ET/PT.