I’ve been dipping back into both the digital as well as photographic archives here at Casa de Pinch pulling out some F-14 Tomcat pictures for your historical entertainment. Its one of my Happy Places, up to my ears in Adobe Lightroom and Paint Shop Pro, cleaning these up as best I can.
This particular shot has a number of things going for it – the instant the tailhook hits the deck, looking for one of those 110′ wide steel cables that will slow and eventually stop the aircraft in about 400-500 feet – your normal airport runway is usually 8,000 or 10,000 feet long. Our max landing weight, if I remember correctly was about 54,000 lbs and our approach speed was close to 135 knots. So you have a 27-ton aircraft moving along at 155 miles per hour needing to stop in something not much longer than a football field.
The guy on the left is the Fly 3 Petty Officer – he pretty much runs everything on the aft part of the flight deck (Fly 1 is the bow, Fly 2 is the middle part of the flight deck.) The guys to the right are the LSOs, or Landing Signal Officers. They monitor the approach and provide corrective communications, if needed, to the pilot. During daytime operations, however, we always land what we call “ziplip” – no communications whatsoever. Carrier flight operations – one of the most demanding and least-forgiving environments on earth.
VF-14, Camelot 100, landing onboard USS JFK, CV-67, late 80s