Basic information for writers on carrier flight deck operations

Published by captain kate in the blog captain kate's blog. Views: 57

The initial thing to learn are the colors of the various jackets and shirts that work on the flight deck. There is a website, run by the US Navy that details what they mean, and the individual duties it is here:

http://www.navy.mil/navydata/ships/carriers/rainbow.asp

With that out of the way, keep in mind that it's a dangerous operation. Each plane has to hooked to the catapult by a person, who accesses it by moving under the plane. This is done to prevent someone from being sucked into a jet engine. There is a video on youtube showing this very danger, which the crewman get very lucky and survived. When moving behind the plane, where the engine wash comes from, personnel bend over with their hand over head. If it's warm, then you bend over further, because once hooked into the launch system, the jets are at full mil power (meaning maximum thrust) to be able to climb after being launched off.

Walls come up from the deck to protect the planes waiting to launch from the engine thrust of the one's on the catapult. They have been known to come down, and seriously injure people by crushing or cutting off limbs, so keep that in mind when writing.

The person who decides when the plane goes is called the shooter. While there are people in a small bubble built into the deck that control the actual catapult's, the shooter makes the final call. They were yellow, so their job falls into that category.

Also, the crew member's who make final inspection of the flaps, rudders, etc, chain themselves to a small hole on deck to keep from being blown down the deck. Furthermore, wherever there isn't a catwalk running beside the flight deck, there is netting built around the edge of deck with the purpose of trying to catch and keep a crew member from going overboard.

Landing involves arrestor cables, I think it's somewhere between three to five on the deck, at the rear (called stern in the navy. The very front of the ship is called the bow. Left is called Port, right is called Starboard), or stern, of the craft. The aircraft are built with hooks, and they catch the hydraulic cables and the resistance stops the plane. There have been instances of them failing, which can be found on youtube.

I know they'll be military people on the board who can really go in depth on the subject, but this is a very simplistic information, which can help. The more in depth others provide can give your novel a better depth of realism.
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