With the recent press of the
Soviet Russian carrier group coming out of hibernation for a Med sortie, we thought it was about time for another Reflections series – this time finding our gallant scribe back at sea after his first shore tour at Naval Postgrad School. This time he is on a second sea tour as a senior LT with VAW-126 and on JFK’s 1986-87 winter Med deployment. Did we also mention he was selected to participate in the community’s experimental NFO Copilot program?
Post landing was always a zoo. First there was the tension of the approach, increased as it were in bad weather or at night – or as the case was here, under modified EMCON conditions where we were late and second to last to land with the off-going tanker right behind. In the back there was a kind of organized chaos as the NFOs went about their various post flight duties, occasionally peering anxiously out their portholes but up front, the focus follies shifted from the air to flight deck as the cockpit was a blur of activity. All of which, of course, was reined over by the Boss who on this deployment aboard the mighty warship John F. Kennedy (CV 67), on this day in the Year of Our Lord 1987 in the central
“602 clear the landing area – NOW”
In the cockpit of 602 the pilot was swearing a blue streak as he simultaneously struggled with a balky nose steering gear, a flight deck whose coefficient of friction resembled something out of the south end of a northbound goose and the well-known weather-cocking effect of an E-2C with it’s wings folded; well-known it would seem to all except a certain apoplectic air boss.
In the pattern, the KA-6 which had cheated and cut the pattern a little too fine was well into the groove when the call came:
“Wave it off – foul deck”
At which point the Boss went nuclear. “Hummer Rep!” came the call and the sacrificial Tower Flower LTJG from VAW-126 went forth to be flayed alive, knowing full well by this point in the deployment the futility of trying to explain what all could readily see transpiring on the deck below. By now a tow bar had been attached to the nose gear of 602 and it had been towed out of the landing area and across the foul line. But in doing so, it had now pretty effectively locked up the deck so that when the tanker landed, it would be a while before the deck was re-spotted for launch. This, of course, added the Handler to the growing coterie of non-Hummer fans onboard the JFK at the moment.