Landing a high-performance jet aircraft on an aircraft carrier is the most difficult and challenging task any pilot will ever face, and it is what distinguishes US Naval aviators from all other military aircrew. In what effectively amounts to a “controlled crash” onto the flight deck, a 44,000-pound aircraft traveling 140 mph engages a 1.5-inch steel cable and is brought to a halt in less than 200 feet. The feat requires the combined efforts of hundreds of sailors above and below decks, and the assistance of fellow pilots to ensure the pilot landing does so safely.
The fact that they do—hundreds of times a day somewhere around the world—is a testament to their skill and professionalism.
On this episode, US Navy Commander Jack “Farva” Curtis, EA-18G pilot and former air wing landing signal officer, joins us to begin a discussion on the procedures and equipment involved in daytime carrier landings. We discuss the “Case 1 stack” and aircraft arrival procedures, as well as the arresting gear cables and equipment involved in bringing an aircraft to a (relatively) uneventful stop. Check out our YouTube playlist for a compilation of videos showing some of the people and equipment involved.
The listener question segment this week is a replay of a recent Facebook Live session with episode 1 guest Brian “Sunshine” Sinclair, who returns to help explain what a ‘VX’ squadron is, why the US Air Force is dealing with pilot shortages, and whether “compartmentalization” is a trained skill.
Farva will be back in episode 14 to conclude this exciting discussion on day carrier landings.