Once again, from our ever alert Aviation News Scout, Virg Hemphill, comes another great video post regarding Naval Aviator in training – – – when they are ready for their first attempts to land a fast moving jet on the mother ship – and Aircraft Carrier.
Virg and I were USAF jet pilots, so we didn’t have to endure this experience, in fact we not so jokingly used to refer to all Navy landings aboard ship as either good or bad “controlled crashes.” That’s because, as you can see, there’s simply no such thing on an Aircraft Carrier as a “smooth” landing.
The arresting gear that so suddenly jerks your hurling machine to a sudden stop, simply cannot provide a “smooth” end of flight experience. In fact, when you stop to think about the Navy shipboard landing process, if the pilots were not tightly constrained by a strong shoulder and seat harness, they’d likely be gravely injured or even killed by the sudden stop – as would they be had their plane hit a brick wall. Of course the jets are purposely designed to be exceptionally strong, enough to safely take the sudden stops involved with every Carrier landing.
Without further ado, here’s “The Day of the Tests.” It is 6:52 long.
When Air Force model aircraft are re-designed for Navy Carrier Service, they must be especially reinforced to be able to withstand the extreme landing forces they’ll have to endure. The result is, of course, that the USN version of the jet will be considerably heavier because of the extra weight of the reinforcement metals involved.
As you can see in this video, there’s a tendency for understandably nervous new pilots to come in too high – – – and to thereby miss the arresting cable altogether. One pilot even forgets to put his tail hook down.
One of the most difficult parts of the new carrier landing technique is for the fledgling pilots to remember to immediately put on full power the instant they touch the deck.
This must be done to be sure that, should the pilot not snag the arresting cable, they’ll have sufficient power to “go around” or make another attempt to land. Missing the arresting cable is called a “bolter.” Doing this sudden application of power upon touching down is an unnatural or non-instinctive procedure, yet critically necesary. If it’s not done with precise timing, they risk rolling straight off the Carrier’s deck and into the ocean.
Your editor spent three years in the Navy before switching to the Air Force and found this videos’ pilots’ reference to the “Boat” as startling. When I served in the Navy, one never used the term “boat” for a large ship, such as an aircraft carrier, so the acceptable language has certainly changed in the past fifty years! We were literally scolded, if we referred to our ship as a boat!