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F-18 Night Carrier Operations USS Carl Vinson (Video)

Aircraft assigned to Carrier Air Wing 17 finish out 2014 flight operations aboard USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70). The ship and embarked air wing are deployed in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility supporting Operation Inherent Resolve, strike operations in Iraq and Syria as directed, maritime security operations, and theater security cooperation efforts in the region. ( More...

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kosmik 4
I have a buddy that flew F-4U Corsairs off of a carrier during the Korean war. He described making a night carrier landing to me as like shitting in your pants and having an ejaculation at the same time. He also admitted (after several hours at the bar) to landing on the wrong carrier once. He says he NEVER did that again, and never lived it down.
smoki 2
The Navy initially rejected the F4U Corsair for carrier ops when it was initially introduced into the fleet because of the difficulty with maintaining lineup in the groove what with the F4U's long nose relative to the pilot's seated position so far aft blocking too much of the forward field of view. So the Navy gave the advanced Fighter exclusively to the Marines who immediately proceeded to station it on Guadalcanal at Henderson Field among which was the famous Black Sheep Squadron commanded by then Major Greg "Pappy" Boyington. At 31 years of age he was the old man in a squadron comprised mostly of young tigers in their early twenties so they nicknamed him "Pappy" and the name stuck. The rest is history with the Marines but the Navy eventually took the F4U back aboard ship when a Brit (Lend Lease to the British) figured out that if you flew the airplane in a slight right yawed steady heading sideslip when on final approach coming aboard ship kicking it out at the cut signal from the LSO it could be operated safely.

With respect to the F-18 night carrier ops, there's consolation in knowing some things haven't changed since yours truly operated off USS boat (Forrestal, Saratoga and America) 44 years ago except obviously the equipment and one man fighter airplanes. I saw what appeared to be at least one taxi one wire (the first arresting cable) and at least one 4 wire engagement (the last arresting cable). The optimum or target wire/cable for which the Fresnel Lens (OLS) is set is number 3. Either there were no bolters or they were edited out. The FBW side stick controllers of the F-18 because they are obviously gripped during the turbulent arrested rollout obviously causes the flight controls to dance around some in response.

There's not a noisier nor more hazardous environment than that of a U.S. Carrier flight deck during flight ops especially at nighttime. Though I'm guessing its substantially more now (maybe not in 1971 dollars), 44 years ago the flight deck hazardous duty pay for those deck hands shown in the video was a mere $50 which ain't much considering how hazardous the working conditions are in their office. I witnessed several tragic fatal accidents, one of which involved a catapult officer during launch the graphic details of which I'll leave to your imagination.
matt jensen 1
Try doing it in a COD at 0200 and foggy conditions.
Note the last F-18 to trap is the tanker. Boggles the mind to think that the Carrier Navy is dependent on F-18s to provide airborne fuel!
Why not? They've practically replaced everything else with Hornets. Soon you'll have COD and AEW/AWACS via the Hornet airframe!

Please note the intended sarcasm. I'm sure we can all agree that the Hornet family has a number of performance drawbacks over the aircraft it has replaced (Tomcat, Intruder, Prowler, Texaco, am I forgetting anything?)
Louis Messier 2
Ever want to try cn only marvel at the instrumentation that enables this magnitude of ops in the dark.
smoki 1
Unless it's changed radically from what I knew many years ago, with the exception of ACLS (automatic carrier landing system) which is (or was) the shipboard equivalent of ILS but with the ship's equipment able to lock on to the airplane and command its position relative to the glideslope plus an APC (Approach Power Compensator) or auto throttles in the airplane, thus a hands off approach to touchdown (used primarily for below minimums including zero-zero approaches), the instrumentation as such for a visual approach, which is assumed to have been the case for the approaches in the video, centers around the pilot's scan of Meatball, Lineup and AOA with the Meatball referring to the Fresnel Lens OLS. An AOA indexer light array is normally positioned in the upper left of the windscreen thus the pilot's scan is heads up and confined to a relatively narrow arc. Airspeed is normally only scanned for confirmation of the AOA indication. The LSO (traditionally referred to as "Paddles") is in the comm loop breaking silence only when necessary with power, lineup and glideslope related calls. The extent to which HUDs and their display of digitally reproduced data may now be integrated into today's carrier airplanes for visual approaches is unknown to this old carrier jock. Additionally an AOA indexer light array is also positioned externally on the nose gear of the approaching airplane giving the LSO (Landing Signal Officer) another visual clue to confirm its speed relative to optimum. Obviously no landing or taxi lights are ever used. The old days of exclusive red lighting for nighttime ops including on deck lighting was disposed of decades ago in lieu of lowered intensity white lighting for illumination of the landing area which greatly improved safety for all concerned. Deck spotting by the landing airplane which typically leads to a last second come-down-at-the-ramp correction and at best to what is commonly referred to as a "taxi one wire" is strongly discouraged because of its potential for a hard landing with damage to the undercarriage or worse but it remains a temptation. Night carrier landings with low ceiling and viz and thrown in a rough sea with a pitching and rolling deck is without question THE most difficult landing an airplane and its pilot can make anywhere on this planet. The late astronaut Alan Shepherd was once asked what was the most difficult thing he had ever done fully expecting him to reply with a space related story, but no, he quickly responded with: "night carrier landings."
Louis Messier 1
F-18 as a tanker...that does boggle...never would have thought of it.

On the wrong deck..gasp.
"CATCC, 314 up, Sweet Package, 400 to give…." :-))))
Louis Messier 1
What is a "COD" ?
Bill Harris 2
I'm thinking its a reference to Carrier Onboard Delivery, which may have some parallels to the overnight bus I rode once from St. Ignace to Duluth, but with more potential for an unplanned swim. Small wonder that the aircraft usually used by the Navy for COD is dubbed the Greyhound.
Yes, COD officially stands for Carrier Onboard Delivery, which is done by the C-2 Greyhound. "COD" is also the unofficial nickname of the C-2 because of that.
Mark Bragg 1
It's used to shuttle personnel and light equipment from shore (usually base) to operating carriers.
Louis Messier 1
Ahh...Ok, thanks!
Michael Lewis 1
Yeah. Pretty much badass. Nothing further.
Louis Messier 1
Skillful stuff!
Me encanta recibir estos boletines, pero me gustaría mas recibirlas en español, casi no hablo inglés, es por eso que se me complica comentar al respecto, agradezco la atención brindada. Lilliam
Lee Sulecki 1
Would love to experience being shot off a carrier, however, you would put my butt on dry land. There is something soothing about a 10000' runway. Love the video.
That was awesome!!!! THXS
Mark Bragg 1
Carrier Onboard delivery - 8 or 10 seats, prop driven - catapult-launched
Notice the application of full power upon touchdown! This is so that if you bolter(hook slips off the cable)one can still make a takeoff, go around and try again. Talk about pucker factor!
close - - but a Bolter is normally caused by landing long - and very occasionally by a hook skip. If a hook actually spits the cable there will have been too much deceleration for even the blower to get the airplane airborne again.
Any reasonably recent LSOs available to explain what all the lights are on the front of the Hornet ?
matt jensen 0
My grandson served on the Vinson during the Gulf War
srobak 0
Hornet lovers will want to give this a watch... make sure it is in HD - and it is more impressive when run on big screen and through BIG sound. 2nd half is the best.


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