The young EA-6B Prowler pilot was called to the pilot house to meet his CO, the Air Wing Commander, and the Boss so they could congratulate him on saving his aircraft.
It takes skills and nerves of ice for a US Navy pilot to take off and land an aircraft on a carrier’s flight deck, essentially a miniature airfield, that is pitching, rolling and yawing in rough seas which these ships operate in.
Because of the rough seas, some naval aviators voluntarily resigned their flight status.
‘Getting my turn over, I was surprised to find out that we were conducting flight ops and they were trying to get the planes back on board due to the weather getting worse. We have a flight deck camera in main control and we monitor communications with the Air Boss in case we need to react quickly.
‘I sat there and listened and watched as the Air Boss coaxed the last few A-6s [most probably the EA-6B Prowlers of VAQ-131] on to the deck, and it looked ugly. A couple just caught the last wire on the arresting gear and managed to get on board safely. The last guy was a newbie and I am sure never had to land on a pitching deck with intermittent cross winds. He had either aborted or was waved-off four times. He sounded super nervous, and the Air Boss was doing his best to talk him down in a calm soothing voice, that to anyone who listened frequently to those communications sounded way too calm, like he was trying too hard. The Boss basically told him on his fifth approach it was all or nothing, conditions were getting so bad that he would not have another chance. We were too far from any field to Bingo to.
‘He put it down on the deck as a gust of wind caught him and lifted his outboard wing causing him to veer towards the island and a row of F-14s chained to the flight deck. He smartly removed the noses and the expensive ECM equipment contained within three of them before he came to halt.’
‘The young pilot was called to the pilot house to meet his CO, the Air Wing Commander (CAG), and the Boss so they could congratulate him on saving his aircraft. He thanked them, then proceeded to remove his wings, handed them over to the CAG, and told them there would not be a next time.’
Photo credit: U.S. Navy