My words cannot match Lex, so I leave it to Our Good Captain.......................................
"On the carrier’s flight deck, yellow-shirted flight deck directors stand idly by airplanes packed inboard of the landing area, clear of the foul lines. The yellow shirts are at the pinnacle of achievement for an aviation bosun’s mate – each of them is The Man. He gives orders to pilots, orders the officers must follow. He works day after day in one of the most dangerous environments imaginable, one full of great noise, apparent confusion, and great forces acting in trembling opposition. They collectively know that they are a brotherhood, like many others in the military, an elite: The flight deck elite. They also know that no other 22-year old people in the world routinely has so much responsibility for lives and lucre. They are all of them young, tall and tubular. They are also entirely self-confident, well-trained, almost arrogant – they seem to casual observers to be the rough equivalent of modern-day gunslingers.
Although each aircraft has its wheels chocked, and is tied down with chains at three points, each one also has a tow bar hooked up ready for instant use, once the jet is “broken down,” released from chocks and chains. The 3 1/2 acre flight deck is divided into three zones, Fly One on the bow, Fly Two amidships and Fly Three aft. Across the deck the low growl of tow tractors starting, gunning engines to an animal scream, then idling before shutting down alternates from zone to zone. Apart from that, there is a deceptive quiet, a fraudulent listlessness. While feigning a kind of tropical malaise in the rising summer heat, all are a tip-toe: They are awaiting the recovery of the alert launch, so that they can go to work spotting aircraft for the 1200 go. It will be a rigorous challenge to move the twenty-odd aircraft in an hour’s time, especially moving them on the cramped real estate of an aircraft carrier at sea – they will be moving multiple aircraft in different directions, and moving them very close to one another in passing. The aircraft must not touch – a touch is called a “crunch,” and the aircraft is down until rigorously inspected. There is nothing worse for a yellow shirt than to be directing an aircraft in a crunch."
Rhythms, Part XI
|I added this picture of Final Checker/Troubleshooters of VAQ-140. This squadron was my last command. At retirement, I was a Patriot.|