The Tailhook Association will be broadcasting live from this year’s Symposium!
Note from the Boss:
Listen in, if you can’t make it!
The Tailhook Association will be broadcasting live from this year’s Symposium!
Note from the Boss:
Listen in, if you can’t make it!
In the Career path of Naval Aviation, the hands down ‘coolest’ job is the one that includes the “Office with a Window”. However, “Shore Tours” or “Ships Company” tours are required in checking the necessary boxes expected for career advancement.
So what are the coolest jobs in Naval Aviation for the customary 2nd tour?
One job, identified by many who have worn the Yellow Shirt, is Cat and Arresting Gear Officer. AKA “Shooter”. So important is this role it is even immortalized here in the banner of The Tailhook Daily Briefing. We all know “That Pose” and what it means. You’re going flying! Whether you like it or not!
For those of you who visit these pages for an education about Naval Aviation I offer up the following narrative from guest author Cdr. Bill “Pinch” Paisley (USN Ret) a former F-14 RIO and a “Shooter” aboard The USS Eisenhower (CVN-69) about what it was to be a Shooter.
Being a Cat Officer on a US aircraft carrier was one of the coolest jobs I ever had - bar none (outside a cockpit, mind you). You'd come up on deck 30 min before launch to get everything all set with the V-2 guys and (now) gals, pre-flight the cat, walk the track, inspect the aircraft holdback equipment, all that. If it was a morning launch, you'd be up at 0-dark-30 as your cat teams do their pre-operational checks and shoot no-loads - the cat firings with no aircraft attached to verify proper operation. You'd also be up for some of those early morning sunrises at sea where you simply catch your breath in its beauty.
If you had weight chit duty, you'd head on over to Flight Deck Control at the base of the island where each aircrew would stop by to drop off a slip of paper with their aircraft weight and scheduled ordnance, if they had any bombs or missiles. You'd find the heaviest aircraft and calculate what the winds were needed to get that aerospace pig flying, and report that to the Boss up in Pri Fly, who would pass on to the bridge so they knew what wind over the deck was required. (Probably one of my first "Note To Self" moments: When you leave Flight Deck Control with these 16 or 18 little pieces of paper, you shove them in your pocket to save and review if there is some question about wind over deck. Shove them *deep* into your pocket. You do not want them working their way out and spreading, snow-storm-like down the deck in 30 knots of wind and exhaust and all that. Tends to bring unwanted attention to yourself).
We'd launch the E-2 Hawkeye 10 minutes before the regular launch to give them time to get out on station. Catapults are numbered from Starboard to Port, the Bow Cats being #1 and #2 and the Waist Cats being #3 and #4. After the ‘Hummer’ was launched, the Bow cat officer would get with the waist cat officer - and this is when the fun would start - and we'd coordinate the launch – who would go first (say Cat 2), then who was next (cat 3), and so on. There was always a sequence you needed to follow - for example to make sure exhaust from one aircraft at full power won't send hot confused and roiling air into the intake of some other aircraft at full power. Or, as evidenced in the video (embedded further down in this article), catapult 2 was launched first because a Tomcat's wings, when positioned on catapult spread for launch, foul the catapult 3 shot line.
A carrier, as they say, is predictable in two evolutions - that is, a sub or whatever will know *exactly* where it is headed - and that is during launch and during recovery. Even today with the advanced submersed weapons that can find anything anywhere, you still want to remain as unpredictable a platform as you can. As a result, you wanted to get that launch wrapped up *as quick as possible* so the carrier can be on its merry way. So once we started, it was "load and shoot", over and over again till done.
After the E-2 shot, the flight deck beacon (tells everyone the status of the launch (red hold, amber 5 minute warning, green launch!)) the flight deck boys would bring up the jets and position them as per our launch sequence plan (LSP). After that, wed' just wait...usually in 30 knots of wind, often (on the waist) hot exhaust blowing on you, just...waiting.
Even though we were tied in to everyone and everything via radio, we'd still sit there and watch that beacon. The light on the island would go from red to amber - meaning 5 minutes to launch. Load up the cats - 4 jets would be taxied up, one to each catapult - nose launch bar lowered, holdback attached, Tomcat wings would spread, flaps lowered, weapons armed, and we'd stand by, knowing everything was working smoothly, just waiting for that green light.
When it went green, no time to waste...you gave the "come on" signal with your hands to the hook up petty officer, he did his magic to make sure there was a good hook up (launch bar into catapult shuttle), and you start your finger-waggling "go to full power" signal.
While this was going on cat 2, cat 3 was coming up to full power too. A perfect first launch was a "boom" as the cat 2 pistons, each weighing a ton, hit the water brakes at about 160 mph - separated by a second or two by a second "boom" as the cat 3 pistons hit. After that, you launch 'em as fast as the Fly petty officers can load them. You are always peeking over to the other launch cats (bow to waist or waist up to bow) to see where they are in their sequence so you could time yours to be a second after theirs.
You'd say the little Cat O litany as you are scanning the aircraft during the launch process to make sure everything *looks* right- "Flaps, slats, panels, pins (all look good), man is out (hook up petty officer is out from under the aircraft), thumbs up (meaning good hook up), thumbs up final checkers (dudes
at the aft part of the aircraft have thumbs up, meaning the engine area on the jet is looking good - no leaks, fuel or hydraulic or anything like that), winds are good...going burner...burner looks good (if it is a burner shot), scan the cat track up to the bow/end of the waist, back along the deck edge (no FOD, or people where they shouldn't be), back to the pilot and aircraft, up to the rotating beacon to make sure it hasn't turned red for some reason, back to the pilot to make sure he is still good to go, check winds to make sure they are still what they need to be, check steam for 520 psi pressure, back to pilot, watch for that salute (because everyone knows you always salute when you leave the ship!), make sure he is not shaking his head "NO!" and *boom*...that airplane is going flying!
The shaking of the pilot's head "NO!" was an important part in this whole evolution. If there is a problem inside the cockpit that could be a serious problem, the pilot could not always be counted on to be able to communicate that problem via radio - electrical failure, radio malfunction, chatter on the communications network, whatever. The Cat Officer's last look is at the pilot.
When the "launch" button is pressed, a signal is sent to open the launch valve control valve, porting a specific amount (based on aircraft weight) of high pressure hydraulic fluid to open the launch valves, allowing steam at 520 pounds per square inch to travel through the launch valves, pushing the catapult pistons, with the aircraft hooked up to them, accelerating a 34-ton F-14 to 150 miles per hour in 300 feet.
In the middle of this whole launch event, I can remember thinking once "This. Is. Kick. ASS!" and how no place else in the world could you have this much action and responsibility and coolness and sense of worth and knowing you are part of one of the finest and most complex evolution ever devised by man. It is at times like that you realize you are at - yes, as Cat O during a launch - you are at the apex of that whole pyramid of complex engineering and action. America had 12 carriers at that time with 2 or 3 in extended refit, leaving 9 or 10 active deployable carriers. Each of these remaining carriers had 3 or 4 qualified and experienced catapult officers as part of her ship's company, so you realize...I am doing a job that only a couple dozen people in the world do. I know there were other jobs for a JO's second tour that may have been more fun and glamorous and sexy or whatever, but for sheer excitement and a studly "clank-when-you-walk" factor? Hard to beat this.
So there you have it. What’s your idea of a cool Naval Aviation Job (Not in the window office)?
Neil Armstrong—Neil Alden Armstrong (1930- 2012 ) was born on 5 August 1930 on his grandparents' farm near Wapakoneta, Ohio, to Stephen and Viola Armstrong. Because Armstrong's father was an auditor for the state of Ohio, Armstrong grew up in several communities, including Warren, Jefferson, Ravenna, St. Marys, and Upper Sandusky, before the family settled in Wapakoneta.
Armstrong developed an interest in flying at age two, when his father took him to the National Air Races in Cleveland, Ohio. His interest intensified when he went for his first airplane ride in a Ford Tri-Motor, a "Tin Goose," in Warren, Ohio, at age six. From that time on, he claimed an intense fascination with aviation. At age 15, Armstrong began taking flying lessons at an airport north of Wapakoneta, working at various jobs in town and at the airport to earn the money for lessons in an Aeronca Champion airplane. By age 16, he had his student pilot's license—before he even passed his automobile driver's test and received that license and before he graduated from Blume High School in Wapakoneta in 1947. Immediately after high school, Armstrong received a scholarship from the U.S. Navy. He enrolled at Purdue University and began his studies of aeronautical engineering. In 1949, the Navy called him to active duty, where he became an aviator, and in 1950, he was sent to Korea. There he flew 78 combat missions from the aircraft carrier USS Essex.
After mustering out of the Navy in 1952, Armstrong joined the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA). His first assignment was at the NACA’s Lewis Research Center, near Cleveland, Ohio. For the next 17 years, he was an engineer, test pilot, astronaut, and administrator for NACA and its successor agency, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). In the mid-1950s, Armstrong transferred to NASA's Flight Research Center in Edwards, California, where he became a research pilot on many pioneering high-speed aircraft, including the well-known, 4,000 mile-per-hour X-15. He flew over 200 different models of aircraft, including jets, rockets, helicopters, and gliders. While there, he also pursued graduate studies and received a master of science degree in aerospace engineering from the University of Southern California.Armstrong transferred to astronaut status in 1962, one of nine NASA astronauts in the second class to be chosen. He moved to El Lago, Texas, near Houston's Manned Spacecraft Center, to begin his astronaut training. There he underwent four years of intensive training for the Apollo program to land an American on the Moon before the end of the decade. On 16 March 1966, Armstrong flew his first space mission as command pilot of Gemini VIII with David Scott. During that mission, Armstrong piloted the Gemini VIII spacecraft to a successful docking with an Agena target spacecraft already in orbit. Although the docking went smoothly and the two craft orbited together, they began to pitch and roll wildly. Armstrong was able to undock the Gemini and used the retro rockets to regain control of his craft, but the astronauts had to make an emergency landing in the Pacific Ocean.
As spacecraft commander for Apollo 11, the first piloted lunar landing mission, Armstrong gained the distinction of being the first person to step onto the surface of the Moon. On 16 July 1969, Armstrong, Michael Collins, and Edwin E. "Buzz" Aldrin began their trip to the Moon. Collins was the Command Module pilot and navigator for the mission. Aldrin, a systems expert, was the Lunar Module pilot and became the second person to walk on the Moon. As commander of Apollo 11, Armstrong piloted the Lunar Module to a safe landing on the Moon's surface. On 20 July 1969, at 10:56 p.m. EDT, Neil Armstrong stepped down onto the Moon and made his famous statement, "That's one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind." Armstrong and Aldrin spent about 2.5 hours walking on the Moon, collecting samples, doing experiments, and taking photgraphs. On 24 July 1969, the three men splashed down in the Pacific Ocean. They were picked up by the aircraft carrier USS Hornet.The three Apollo 11 astronauts were honored with a ticker tape parade in New York City soon after returning to Earth. Armstrong received the Medal of Freedom, the highest award offered to a U.S. civilian. Armstrong's other awards coming in the wake of the Apollo 11 mission included the NASA Distinguished Service Medal, the NASA Exceptional Service Medal, 17 medals from other countries, and the Congressional Space Medal of Honor. Armstrong subsequently held the position of Deputy Associate Administrator for Aeronautics, NASA Headquarters, Washington, DC, in the early 1970s. In that position, he was responsible for the coordination and management of overall NASA research and technology work related to aeronautics. After resigning from NASA in 1971, he became a professor of aerospace engineering at the University of Cincinnati and served from 1971 to 1979. During the years 1982 to 1992, Armstrong served as chairman of Computing Technologies for Aviation, Inc., in Charlottesville, Virginia. He then became chairman of the board of AIL Systems, Inc., an electronics systems company in Deer Park, New York. At the time of his passing, Armstrong was living on his farm in Lebanon, Ohio. (NASA)
Fair winds and following seas ... and may you rest in peace.
A celebration of “Jig Dog” is planned at Tailhook HQ in San Diego on Friday October 12th (1700-1900) if you are in the area, please plan to stop by and share with us you best “Jig Dog” story.
For now I provide you with an interview conducted in 2010 with Admiral Ramage…
And now a few Updates:
Recently, news is out that an A-7C, jettisoned back in 1974 by (then) LtJG Bob Besal, was located off the Coast of St. Augustine FL. [Article Link].
Bob Besal would go on to achieve Flag, but back in ‘74 as a JG, he was required to return his Corsair to the taxpayers after having collided with his CO’s (Cmdr. Peter Schoeffel) plane pulling out of a training bomb run. CNN covers the majority of the story in an interview with RADM Besal…
"Pilot error. It was entirely my fault," he said humbly. "Truthfully, I got a little disoriented. I thought 'Oh my God,' it would be close. The planes were in a climb. I heard a huge bang. My airplane almost immediately went out of control, lost hydraulics."
Besal’s vertical stab was gone!
For Besal, who went on to earn two Distinguished Flying Cross awards and the Bronze Star in Desert Storm and whose career included duty as commanding officer of the aircraft carrier USS America, the collision nearly four decades ago and the recent discovery of his plane have brought back memories and another opportunity for a teachable moment.
"I was fortunate to grow up in a Navy system that accommodated some human error," Besal reflected. "I had a lot of people that gave me another chance. I was blessed."
And there’s the message…
"I was fortunate to grow up in a Navy system that accommodated some human error," …"I had a lot of people that gave me another chance. I was blessed."
Granted, Bob Besal was a JG then and certainly JG’s are afforded a few “Idiot Mulligans”, but has the Navy, and the Naval Aviation Community forgotten this lesson a bit in it’s zeal to placate the unknowledgeable- public and political animals rather than taking care of “Our own business”? Hell, Bob sawed off his tail using the CO’s bird as a knife! And yet, he was afforded the opportunity to continue his career as a Naval Officer… later receiving 2 DFC’s and Bronze Star, becoming CO of the USS America, and attaining the rank of Rear Admiral!
The past few years have seen any number of Command Pins Detonated for what many of ‘Old Salts’ would view as… while not entirely… trivial matters, certainly not momentous issues deserving of removal from command.
I ask our collective, has leadership in the Navy forgotten the lesson of “a Navy system that accommodates some human error”?
A man's errors are his portals of discovery.
~ James Joyce
News is out that yesterday, TOP GUN director Tony Scott has committed suicide by jumping off of the Vincent Thomas Bridge in San Pedro.
Tony was instrumental in many Tailhooker’s lives in that, there are a number of men and women who wear the wings of gold today that back in 1986 had no clue what an F-14A was, what an angle deck was… and was surely under the mis-guided idea that TOPGUN was two words!
In tribute, I could link to any number of TOP GUN clips, but instead I found the following two part Making of TOP GUN to be far more informative. Besides, we’ve all seen That Movie…
These are not short, but very interesting and star the likes of Admiral Mike “Wizard” McCabe (the XO of TOPGUN when the movie was filmed), Pete “Viper” Pettigrew (the Technical Advisor), and Lloyd “Bozo” Abel (the F-14 Aerial Coordinator of the film).
God Speed Tony…
As we can all expect during an election year, or leading up to an election year, political spin will be attached to most any and all things that the Nation executes successfully.
Many have harbored ill feelings toward the current administration’s grand standing, and taking credit for a number of Special Operations Missions. From the disclosure of too many details regarding the raid on Osama Bin Laden, to the leaks of the STUXNET operation, this Administration in particular has been accused of using these successful operations as reason to “Gloat” for lack of a better term at the cost of future intelligence gathering opportunities and direct operations.
Well, some Special Forces Operators, including Navy SEALs, have chosen to not sit idly by. They have begun to advance their cause via the web.
OPSEC is an organization mostly comprised of former and current SpecOps personnel who have organized a campaign to end (or greatly reduce) Politicians gaining clout on the backs of the Operators and the Operations they succeed at.
They have produced a 22 minute video challenging the Administration’s intelligence security, and the motivation behind the leaks that have compromised any number operations.
The Tailhook Association is not officially endorsing this organization or the claims it is making. I post this only as informative to create awareness as to what our Brothers in Arms are thinking… I’m sure many in this organization have shared similar thoughts and feelings. (In this generation as well as previous).
What appears to be the VFA-137 “Kestrels” F/A-18E “CAG Bird” (circa 2010-11) flown by “Truffles” through the low level Sierra Nevada Range. Enjoy…
Photo Credit: Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Lex T. Wenberg
Gotta love the “GoPro” HD cameras.
This year’s Tailhook Reunion and Symposium is only weeks away! And promises to be another great time! This year we pay tribute to 100 years of United States Marine Corps Aviation.
For complete registration details head over to the Mother Ship and compete your registration: LINK
Many have asked what’s happened to Tailhook Daily Briefing… it certainly hasn’t been daily, and hasn’t been providing many briefings.
Short answer… The demands of the “Day Job” have been growing. Ah the toils of being a successful small business! That, and… my computer with all my login’s and passwords gave up the ghost! Now there’s a “Down Gripe!”
Note to self! Write a note to self w/ all logins and passwords! And print it somewhere!
So, now that we have hired a few more folks at the “Day Job” and I have recovered my access credentials, you can reasonably expect more posting in this space.
Having said all that, I could still use your help! I cannot begin to cover the entire scope of our great Tailhook Community, I seek your contributions, your photos, announcements and editorials. Email them to me, and I’ll format them and post them.
JC’s Email LINK
First “real” post to follow shortly… Along with some HTML mods to the site.
Editor, Tailhook Daily Briefing